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Glenn Gould: The Ecstasy and Tragedy of Genius

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Glenn Gould: The Ecstasy and Tragedy of Genius

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Glenn Gould’s 1955 Columbia recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations made the mercurial Canadian piano prodigy world-famous, but he became just as famous for his eccentricities — humming along with the piano, wearing gloves and overcoat in midsummer, staying up all night making manic calls, abruptly quitting the concert circuit at the height of his career, mostly hating Mozart, and overdosing on prescription drugs that sabotaged his health (he died at 50 in 1982). Peter Ostwald, a psychiatrist and violinist who died last year, ponders the counterpoint of Gould’s inner and outer lives in Glenn Gould: The Ecstasy and Tragedy of Genius — solitude and immersion, puritanism and comic impersonations, bravado and phobia. This brisk book is discerning rather than reductive, and guaranteed Freud-free. A