Glenn Gould, one of the world’s most renowned classical musicians of the twentieth century, was also known as an eccentric genius—solitary, headstrong, a hypochondriac virtuoso. Abandoning stage performances in 1964, Gould concentrated instead on mastering the various media: recordings, radio, television, and print. His sudden death at age fifty stunned the world, but his music and legacy continue to inspire. Philosopher and critic Mark Kingwell regards Gould as a philosopher of music whose ideas about music governed his life. But those ideas were contradictory, mischievous, and deliberately provocative. Instead of a single narrative line to explain the musician, Kingwell adopts a kaleidoscopic approach. Just as Gould played twenty-one “takes” to record the opening aria in the famed 1955 Goldberg Variations, Kingwell offers twenty-one “takes” on Gould’s life. Each version offers a different interpretation of the man, but in each, Kingwell is sensitive to the complex harmonies and dissonances that sounded throughout the life of the great Gould.
Philosopher and critic Mark Kingwell is the author of more than ten books, including the national bestsellers Better Living and The World We Want. A professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto, his scholarly work has appeared in many leading journals, including the Journal of… More about Mark Kingwell
“In an elegant feat of rhetorical and analytical skill, Kingwell uses philosophical and cultural observations to turn the tables on the Gould enigma.” – Toronto Star
“A rich, multi-faceted consideration of [Gould].” – Calgary Herald
“Kingwell’s biography is not just about Gould and his eccentricities, but about music and its vitality.” – London Free Press
“An outstanding contribution to Penguin’s series of studies of “extraordinary Canadians”…. The choice of Canadian superstar-philosopher Mark Kingwell to write this study of Gould is inspired…. [an] enthralling and intriguing book. – Canadian Association of Music Libraries Review