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THE SCOOP | Glenn Gould: Celebrating Genius with Cupcakes

By Neil Crory on September 28, 2015

In celebration of Glenn Gould’s 83rd birthday, visitors pose for a photo with Ruth Abernethy’s Bronze of Glenn Gould on Front St. Photo: Kenneth Chou

Friday, September 25th would have been the late Glenn Gould’s 83rd birthday. To celebrate this Canadian icon on his name day, the Glenn Gould Foundation decided to throw Mr. Gould a birthday bash – complete with cupcakes! Had Mr. Gould (who reportedly never celebrated his birthday) got wind of such plans, I suspect that he would have fled the city faster than one could shout, “Hammerklavier!”

On the plus side, kudos to the GGF and associates for taking the time and making the effort to celebrate, publically, a great Canadian classical artist, Something that we – as Canadians – often fail to do. While the event was a bit ‘cheesy’ at times, it was well-intentioned and ultimately provided a more than suitable framework for some important Gould-related announcements.

Photo: Kenneth Chou
Photo: Kenneth Chou

First and foremost was the official Canadian launch of Glenn Gould Remastered – a 78 CD set containing all of Gould’s studio recordings for Columbia/Sony. Also included in this limited edition handsome, richly illustrated, 417-page book by Gould scholar, Kevin Bazzana, containing all of Gould’s original programme notes. This will surely be a most coveted item among connoisseurs and collectors alike. The advance reaction has been encouraging. Simon Rayner (Sony Music Canada’s Director of Marketing) spoke enthusiastically about this and other related Sony releases.

In addition to the box set, Sony is also releasing a sampler disc of the newly remastered Gould edition; a set of USB keys containing all the same material that is found in the CD box; plus audiophile vinyl LP editions of the 1955 and 1982 Goldberg Variations [2015 marks the 60th anniversary of Gould’s first Columbia recording, made in 1955 – the Goldbergs].

Brian Levine and Ruth Abernethy Photo: Kenneth Chou

 The GGF fête took place outdoors along a particularly noisy stretch of Front Street in front of Glenn Gould Studio and Ruth Abernethy’s life-size, sculpture of Gould on a Park Bench – surely the most photographed – and sat upon – sculpture in Toronto. Her recent sculptures of Sir John A. Macdonald and jazz great, pianist Oscar Peterson, have enjoyed equal popularity with the public.

The second announcement of particular note is that Granville Island Press will be releasing a handsome new art book about Abernethy and her work on November 1, 2015. Called, Ruth Abernethy: A Narrative of Life and Bronze, this 9 X 11 inch, 224 page, the colour volume will also be made available in an e-book format.

Unveiling of the plaque Photo: Kenneth Chou

The third announcement arrived in the form of a letter from the Mayor of Toronto which was read by City Councillor Josh Matlow in which the Mayor congratulates the Glenn Gould Foundation on the unveiling of a plaque from Parks Canada in which Glenn Gould is acknowledged as a ‘Person of National Historic Significance’.

In addition to these announcements, there were other attractions. Attendees could listen to a brass band; tour Glenn Gould Studio; have their photo taken with Gould on the bench, or they could have tea and…cupcakes.

So how should we celebrate Gould? With cupcakes or with something more in keeping with Gould’s genius? It’s up to the individual of course, but as for me, I would simply choose a dimly lit quiet room with a stack of my favourite Gould CD’s at my side and ample time to…listen…listen…listen…

Photo: Kenneth Chou


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