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Glenn Gould - Ecstasy & Tragedy of a Genius (Paper) (Anglais) Broché – 17 septembre 1998


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Peter F. Ostwald published several biographies of performing artists, including Schumann: The Inner Voices of a Musical Genius and Vaslav Nijinski: A Leap into Madness. He died, shortly after completing this book, in 1996.


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On February 28, 1957, two young men met on a California stage. Lire la première page
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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index | Quatrième de couverture
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32 internautes sur 32 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Interesting, but should be read with reservations. 10 février 2002
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Glenn Gould was, by all accounts, a fascinating and extraordinary man, but difficult to know ; apart from his art, he was renowned for his perceived eccentricity, his reclusiveness, and his wish to keep his private life entirely hidden and separate from his public persona. Various books and endless articles have attempted to present a portrait of Gould, but to my mind, no writer has ever come close to the "essence" of the man; perhaps this is as Gould himself would have wished. His primary mode of communicating with the world was with his music, and music -related writing and broadcasting, and the author of this book makes that very clear. It is mostly concerned with the glorious music, not with Gould's private life, and this is how it should be. But Peter Ostwald, the author, was a doctor and a psychiatrist as well as a gifted musician,(Well, I have read that he was a gifted musician; I've never heard him play!) and does therefore concentrate one one aspect of Gould that he finds interesting and important to understanding the man: his attitude to health, and his emotional state. Gould was, notoriously, considered to be a hypochondriac, although this is not to suggest that his ill-health was imaginary; he did indeed suffer with a number of serious health problems throughout his short life that affected his ability to play the piano. Ostwald considers these, and Goulds mental states, from a medical point of view, although he rather irritatingly does not form any definite conclusions about the roots of Gould's difficulties and does not offer the reader more than a mere suggestion of diagnosis. (there is a brief mention of the possibility that Gould had Asperger's syndrome .... an idea that seems to arouse the wrath of many Gould admirers!) Yet the subject is fascinating, although I feel that some of the personal details given are a little intrusive. But then, Ostwald knew Gould personally.
And therein lies my greatest reservation about this book. Ostwald writes as though he wishes us to believe that he and Gould were very close friends (despite the fact that he is describing a man who, sadly, seems never to have been truly close to anyone outside his family) but this idea is belied by the facts. Ostwald's last meeting with his subject was some years before Gould died: and he mentions that even that meeting took place after a gap of several years. They had some disagreement at this final meeting and it appears that subsequently Gould cut off all communication beteween them. And this , alas, seems to have affected Ostwald's attitude towards his subject; despite the protestations of friendship and admiration, there is an undertone of bitterness and resentment throughout the book that shows in the writing, as of a friend scorned. No; this book certainly does not leave the reader with the impression that the two men were ever truly close. Despite this, though, it is an informative book, and will interest many, especially - but not only! -those who find Gould's music incomparable . But perhaps it is best not to trust all the conclusions that the author draws; when it comes to Glenn Gould, we will probably never know the man's heart.
41 internautes sur 46 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
When a biographer bears a personal grudge... 24 mai 2001
Par John Harrington - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
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For many reasons Peter Ostwald appears to have borne something of a grudge against Glenn Gould.
There is some explanation for this. For example, at one point, Gould allegedly dismissed Ostwald's earlier biography of Schumann with "why don't you write a book about a really important musician". But this is after Ostwald insults Gould's recording (with Laredo) of the Bach violin and keyboard sonatas.
Additionally, it is true that their friendship cooled over the years, to the point that, in the last five years of Gould's life, they were not in contact at all. Ostwald implies Gould's interest in him was motivated by a desire to mooch off him in a professional capacity, by getting Ostwald, a psychiatrist, to endorse his hypochondriacal excuses for cancelling concerts, and that once Gould understood Ostwald wasn't about to play ball, Gould ended the friendship.
It would be nice if Gould could present his side of the story. The tacit implication is that there could be no other reason for not wishing to be Ostwald's friend. Well, I can think of a few. Ostwald's descriptions of Gould often fairly drip with disdain. It is clear that they disagree on many personal and aesthetic levels. In the end it doesn't seem Ostwald liked Gould much. He has little good to say about his character, or even his recordings. It is hard to see what an enduring friendship was supposed to be based upon.
Ostwald's musical comments are, on occasion, strikingly naive for a music biographer, and in at least one respect grossly in error. For example, he dismisses Gould/Laredo's brilliant recording of the Bach violin sonatas, but praises Gould/Menuhin's recording of the c minor sonata as "a flawless rendition". Objectively, their rendition is anything but "flawless". Menuhin's tone and attack are off throughout the entire piece. But even ignorning Menuhin's technical problems, the musicians don't seem to be in synch interpretively, and their performance is wooden and dull.
When Gould dismisses Mozart's great G minor symphony, Ostwald asks "Had Glenn ever listened to the late viola quartets. How could anyone 'hate' such sublime music?" Well, why evoke the viola quartets after Gould has dismissed K. 550?? Isn't it far harder (or at least as hard) to understand why anyone would hate K. 550?
Ostwald has much company in criticizing Gould's Well Tempered Clavier, but he complains only of Gould's broken chords (a trivial criticism). He then goes on to praise Gould's recording of the Liszt-Beethoven 5th symphony as an example of Gould's ability to "toe the line" and "to play with authentic respect for the composer". But this recording is extremely wayward and eccentric, even for Gould. What could Ostwald have been thinking?
Ostwald does praise both of Gould's studio recordings of the Goldberg variations, and (correctly, IMO) argues that both have their virtues. But he unwittingly diplays shocking ignorance when he remarks on page 318 (re: Monsaingeon's filmed version of the Goldbergs) that "...Glenn's hands are often jittery--see for example variation 17...". This piqued my curiosity, so I popped the DVD in the player for a look. Gould's hands are steady as a rock in variation 17. Again, I had to ask myself what Ostwald was thinking. It then hit me, he must not know the correct number of the variation.... On a hunch I looked at *track* 18 of the DVD. Track 18 is where variation 17 would be found if the DVD began numbering tracks with the opening aria. But there is some biographical footage and a short interview which occupy tracks 1 and 2. Hence, all variations are "off" by 3. The aria is on track 3. Var 1 is on track 4, and so on.... This means track 18 is, in fact, variation 15. Indeed Gould's hands *are* shaking in this variation.
This must seem very trivial, but it isn't. Every student of the Goldbergs must know variation 15 from the others. For one, it is the first of Bach's minor key variations, and it occupies a crucial point in the structure of the Goldbergs (it is the last variation of the first half, before the French "overture"). For Ostwald to get the variation number wrong betrays a startling level of ignorance. Anyone who undertakes a biography of Gould should know these variations forward and back. As trivial as Ostwald's error may seem, it is startlingly telling.
But also any good Gould biographer should at least bring up the possibility that Gould's trembing hands are trembling with a purpose, not uncontrollably. As absurd as it may sound, Gould sometimes applied "vibrato" to the piano keys. He insisted, in typical eccentric fashion, that this had an effect on the sound. This theory is bolstered by the fact that, early on in the variation, Gould, who often (equally absurdly) "conducted" his own performances, brings his left hand up briefly and makes a vibrato gesture, the sort an orchestral conductor would make when he wants more sweetness from the strings. Thus, it seems likely that Gould is applying his trademark "paino vibrato" throughout the variation, especially since his hands, otherwise, seem very steady and controlled.
So why do I give this biography 3 stars? Because it offers some first hand insights which will be important to Gould fans and Scholars, and because the writing is good, not "inapt" as one reviewer puts it below. This is a page turner, and, for someone for whom writing is an avocation or a side line, Peter Ostwald offers lucid, engaging and well-organized prose. Even with its faults, I put this biography above Payzant's but below Friedrich's. I disagree with the reviewer who claims Gould lived without regrets. It is clear he was deeply troubled, and in many ways a tragic figure. Ostwald's biography communicates the "tragedy of genius" very eloquently. Genius need not be tragic, but part of Ostwald's point is to show, using Gould as a case in point, how the level of intensity genius requires can be its own sort of trap.
20 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Never forget the MUSIC! 24 novembre 1999
Par Sen Peng Eu - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
We are interested in Gould not because of his eerie behavior or his being a paranoid. We are JUST fascinated by his wonderful music. This book gives us some perspective of the psychic state and health of Gould, but it stress too much on them ,regardless the really good music Gould had move us, and it tells too little about how Gould make music, what's the connection between music and Gould, and what the meaning of life to Gould? After reading the book, I get the impression that Gould is but a tragic freak. But I ask myself, where does the music come from? The book tells us nothing. It does help me know Gould the guy, but doesn't help me penetrate into Gould the musician.
16 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Rare Glimpses of Gould 3 mai 2000
Par Corn Soup - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
This book is valuable for many new anecdotes about Gould when he was out of the spotlight. For example there is a description of a night of chamber music playing at a friend of the author's house that displays both Gould's strengths as a musician and his limitations as a social being. For those tired of the endlessly repeated tales about wearing gloves in the summer and eating arrowroot biscuits, this is a refreshing book. I won't comment on the psychobiographical aspects of the book because I don't know anything about psychology, but at the very least, Ostwald was an intelligent man who had experience with psychiatry, music, and Gould, so I think there is some value in what he says. Also, unlike some of the other books about relationships that authors have had with pianists (read: Evenings with Horowitz by David Dubal) Ostwald keeps himself in the background for much of the book. I disagree that Ostwald used the book to get back at Gould. It is admittedly a book based on personal experience, and one of his experiences with Gould was that he was ultimately rejected. Why shouldn't he write about being hurt by this experience? At least he didn't try to cast himself as the most important thing in Gould's life, a la Dubal, and recognizes that any relationship with Gould was tenuous, something that he explores in the book.
8 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Interesting perspective, but flawed in many ways. 7 juillet 1997
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
I had high hopes for this book, reserving a copy the second I heard of its existance. And though it provided some new perspectives, not on new material. I also felt that while he continued to talk about Gould's ego problems, his writing seemed to reflect some of his own ego problems. One cannot forget his contradictory parenthetical statements about Gould's views, and the amount of himself that can be found in a biography about Gould. Overall, it was a good idea, but not necesarily as well implimented
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