Glenn Gould Chair
Are you a fan of the music of Bach? Then you certainly know about Glenn Gould, the greatest performer of Bach’s music in the 20th century. His recording of the Goldberg Variations from 1954 immediately made him world-famous.
Glenn Gould preferred to sit very low, and he was never able to find the right chair in concert halls and studios. So he always used his own chair, built for him by his father, which let him sit 30 cm above the floor with his wrists lower than the keyboard. His father said, "I tried to find a light folding chair and sawed a piece off of each leg. I made a brass bracket around each leg and screwed it on tightly and then I welded a screw on each bracket, so that each leg could be individually adjusted."
This special chair is on exhibit in the Library of Toronto. The Italian furniture manufacturer Cazzaro has made a reproduction.
In the German-speaking countries (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) this true-to-the-original reproduction is available exclusively at Pianohaus Zechlin in Ahrensburg near Hamburg.
(Height is adjustable, 35-45 cm, Height of the backrest, 75 cm, Width 45cm, Depth 55cm)
Biographic Facts and Legends
- Glenn Herbert Gould, born on September 25, 1932 in a small house near Toronto. Gould’s father, a furrier, was a Methodist, his mother, a voice teacher, was Presbyterian.
- When Gould was three years old he took piano lessons from his mother. At six he accompanied his parents in a duet on the organ. Occasionally he accompanied the choir at the nearby Presbyterian church.
- At eight years old he was tested at the conservatory in Toronto and received the highest possible score. At school he once saw how a weak student was ridiculed. His fear that he might one day be similarly ridiculed made him swallow several fizzy tablets. This was the beginning of his life-long pill addiction, which lead to his death at fifty.
- In 1942 he began taking lessons on the organ, one year later he won a piano competition.
- In 1947, at fifteen, Gould held his first public solo recital in Toronto with compositions by Scarlatti, Beethoven, Couperin, Chopin, Liszt and Mendelssohn. In 1948 a newspaper called him "the greatest Canadian pianist."
- In 1950, Gould is eighteen years old, his piano teacher introduced him to the music of Arnold Schönberg. Gould wrote a sonata in Schönberg’s style and Schönberg became one of the most important references for him in the music of the 20th century.
- In 1952 Gould withdrew from the public for almost three years. He spent most of his time in his parent’s vacation home in the country, where he practiced ceaselessly.
- In 1955, the first appearances in the US: on January 2 in Washington, on January 11 in New York. His New York debut, with a performance of Bach, Sweelinck, Weber, Gibbons and Berg was a huge success. At 23 he signed an exclusive contract with the recording company CBS.
- In 1957 he was the first North American pianist to appear in the Soviet Union. In Moscow he played pieces from the Viennese School and caused a scandal.
- In 1958 he injured a finger during a concert, an event that aggravated his hypochondriac tendencies. His concert schedule began to take its toll. At 26 he decides to stop giving concerts at the age of thirty.
- In 1962 Gould is thirty. At the height of his career he announces that he is no longer going to appear in concerts. His last concert was on April 10, 1964 in Los Angeles with works by Bach and Hindemith, and Beethoven’s Op. 109.
In an interview with John McClure in 1968, Glenn Gould was asked why he stopped giving concerts. He answered that the life of the concert pianist was an abominable, lifeless affair and he had spent eight or nine joyless years playing concerts. He thought it might be necessary to generate demand for his recordings, but a return to the concert hall would be a regression for him.
During Gould’s lifetime a series of legends began to circulate. The source of most of these legends was his appearance, coincidental aspects of his personality that were seen as features of his character. The pale eccentric dressed in a coat, scarf and gloves. The sensitive musician who took the chair with the sawed off legs that his father made him when he was young to all of his concerts and recording sessions, who hummed along during the most intensive moments -- a bad habit that, as he himself said, he would have liked to stop, but he was afraid that it would have a negative effect on his playing.
But then there is the other, the real Glenn Gould who looked out from behind the eccentric details that he used as a mask: The shy loner, who hid in his hotel room, slept during the day and worked at night. The much-admired artist, who combined a unique pianistic talent with intense and critical intelligence. The brilliant analyst and writer of essays. The non-conformist, who made fun of Beethoven’s Appassionata and was always searching the piano literature for rarities, who valued the works of Sibelius more than those of Chopin, who saw in Richard Strauss the greatest composer of the 20th century. Gould recorded his piano sonata in B minor, Op. 5, an early work written in 1881, in an incomparable recording.
Glenn Gould died on October 4, 1982.
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You can order the Glenn Gould Chair with an appropriate cushion!
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The Cazzaro Chair at "Salon du meuble" 2007 (Paris)
Original Glenn Gould Chair (Ottawa)