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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Free Bach Music:

The Open Goldberg Variations: J.S. Bach’s Masterpiece Free to Download

A Big Bach Download: The Complete Organ Works for Free

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Comments (9)
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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???

  • Asher Wade says:

    Upon what exactly ‘iz’ Glenn preforming, as he says, “not exactly a piano, not exactly a harpsichord, …but a neurotic piano which ‘thinks’ it is a harpsichord”(ha!); …thus, my question?

  • 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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