A ROMANCE ON THREE LEGS ~ Glenn Gould’s Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Piano
Book review and technical detail A ROMANCE ON THREE LEGS ~ Glenn Gould’s Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Piano Katie Hafner
|Technical detail of A ROMANCE ON THREE LEGS ~ Glenn Gould’s Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Piano|
|Title||A ROMANCE ON THREE LEGS ~ Glenn Gould’s Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Piano|
|Category||Entertainment & Sports|
|Publishing Date||1st January, 1970|
A pianist’s love affair with his instrument, and the blind man who enabled it.Glenn Gould (1932–82) was one of the most respected artists of classical music’s modern era. Piano tuner Charles Verne Edquist, on the other hand, is known only to a handful of music buffs. Both men were still boys in 1942, when the designers and manufacturers at Steinway & Sons began work on CD 318, a concert grand that Gould would one day conclude was the perfect instrument—and that Edquist would spend two decades tuning and revivifying from the pianist’s hard use. It wasn’t until 1960, four years after Gould became a classical bestseller with his recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, that he sat down to play CD 318 in a concert hall on the top floor of Toronto’s premier department store. It would be two more years before Gould connected with Edquist, who spent much of the next two decades adjusting CD 318 to meet the pianist’s demands for “hair-trigger action and lightning-fast repetition.” Plucky New York Times correspondent Hafner (Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet, 1996, etc.) weaves together three stories—of the pianist, the tuner and the piano itself—into a single cohesive narrative, the musical version of Seabiscuit (2001), as it were. She’s not distracted by Gould’s legendary quirks (the germ phobia, the grunting and whistling while performing) or his formidable loquacity. Drawing on hours of recorded interviews, she filters out the redundant and inconsequential to lucidly grasp the essential: the complex interaction among an artist, a craftsman and the precious tool they both revered.Written with authority and enthusiasm, a treat for armchair musicologists, Gould fanatics and even those who never heard a note he played.
A grand tale of obsession about the brilliant Glenn Gould and the unique, temperamental instrument he came to love beyond all others, by a top New York Times writer.Glenn Gould was one of the most complex, brilliant artists of the twentieth century, a musician famous for bizarre habits: he wore a hat and gloves even on the warmest summer day; refused to shake hands for fear of germs or damaged fingers; hummed and conducted himself while he played; and traveled the world with a battered old chair, refusing to perform while sitting on anything else. But perhaps Gould’s greatest obsession of all was with a Steinway concert grand known as CD318. To explain that relationship, which Gould himself described as “a romance on three legs,” Katie Hafner introduces us to the important figures in Gould’s life, including Verne Edquist, his longtime, long-suffering, blind tuner. She offers a fascinating history of the art of tuning, and takes us inside Steinway during the war years, when CD318 was built. And she dissects Gould’s life with the piano, from his first encounter with it to the endless coddling and tweaking that Edquist performed over the years. Hafner includes Gould’s stormy, sometimes outrageous, correspondence with Steinway, and describes his despair when CD318 was fatally dropped from a loading dock.The book will appeal to fans of books like The Piano Shop on the Left Bank, as well as to those looking fora rich story of obsession like The Orchid Thief.
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