Glenn Gould Explains the Genius of Johann Sebastian Bach (1962)

The Cana­di­an pianist Glenn Gould was one of the most bril­liant and idio­syn­crat­ic inter­preters of the music of Johann Sebas­t­ian Bach. In this 1962 spe­cial for the Cana­di­an Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion, Gould reveals the same bril­liance and idio­syn­crasy in his under­stand­ing of Bach’s place in his­to­ry.

Bach, says Gould, was not so much ahead of his time as out­side it. “For Bach, you see, was music’s great­est non-con­formist, and one of the supreme exam­ples of that inde­pen­dence of the artis­tic con­science that stands quite out­side the col­lec­tive his­tor­i­cal process.”

“Glenn Gould on Bach,” was first broad­cast in Cana­da on April 8, 1962, two years before Gould’s retire­ment from per­form­ing and only two days fol­low­ing his con­tro­ver­sial Carnegie Hall con­cert with the New York Phil­har­mon­ic, in which Gould’s inter­pre­ta­tion of the Bra­hams D‑minor piano con­cer­to was so eccen­tric that Leonard Bern­stein felt com­pelled to make a dis­claimer to the audi­ence. The cen­ter­piece of the Bach broad­cast is a per­for­mance of the Can­ta­ta BWV 54 fea­tur­ing the Amer­i­can coun­tertenor Rus­sell Ober­lin. “Glenn Gould on Bach” is a fas­ci­nat­ing and enter­tain­ing half hour–essential view­ing for lovers of Baroque and Clas­si­cal music.

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Comments (8)
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  • Tom Oberholtzer says:

    .……it had to be tough to be Glenn Gould .…

  • Laura Minor says:

    after awhile, this vocal­ist starts to sound like Dia­man­da Galas … which I dig

  • lily says:

    sub­ti­tles are amaz­ing!!!

  • Aphugel says:

    The tran­scrip­tion is RIDICULOUS. Why pro­vide text if is THIS faulty? Can’t watch, bc. I auto­mat­i­cal­ly read. And what I read is none­sen­si­cal.

  • James says:

    YouTube is beta test­ing their auto­mat­ic sub­ti­tle gen­er­a­tor???

  • sdxpdx says:

    I also can’t help but try to “read”. What a mess…very dis­tract­ing.

  • Sue Gordon says:

    The transcript/subtext is appalling and not to cor­rect it, Youtube, is dis­re­spect­ful to Gould as well as JSB…
    C’mon, you can do bet­ter than this and we deserve bet­ter too

  • Willard Strindberg says:

    What a won­der it would be to hear Bach through Gould’s ears, through his under­stand­ing, both his intel­lec­tu­al and emo­tion­al under­stand­ing. I bring so lit­tle, com­pared to Gould, to Bach and so come away with so much less than Gould. True enough, the reward is earned and so belongs to Gould and not me, but if just once Gould’s ears.

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