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Glenn Gould

Glenn Gould (September 25, 1932 – October 4, 1982) was a Canadian concert pianist of world fame, in particular as a Bach's interpreter. In spite of his masterful performances, he stopped performing publicly at the age of 31, labeling public concerts a "force of evil". At the same time he is reported to have made the following statement: "The justification of art is the internal combustion it ignites in the hearts of men and not its shallow, externalized, public manifestations. The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenaline but is, rather, the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity." He was also a writer, broadcaster, conductor as well as a prolific contributor to musical journals. His perfect pitch was noticed by the age of 3 and he could read music before he could read words. Even earlier, as a baby, he used to hum melodies rather than crying. He first performed one of his own compositions publicly in 1938 (at the Emmanuel Presbyterian Church). He was admitted to the Toronto Conservatory of Music (now called the Royal Conservatory of Music) at the age of 10 and passed his final exam with the highest marks ever recorded at 12, after initially being taught music by his mother. Around the same time he injured his back, which is the reason for the adjustable chair he always took with him to perform at concerts. According to Gould himself he rarely practiced at the piano, as he preferred to study music by reading it rather than sitting at the piano. He also had an extraordinary memory and could memorize whole pieces at first sight. His first appearance with an orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, was in 1945 in a performance of the first movement of Beethoven's 4th Piano Concerto, his first solo recital was in 1947 and his first recital on radio was in 1950 (with the CBC). Gould is well-known for his eccentricities, from his unusual musical interpretations and mannerisms at the keyboard (for example he often swayed his torso in a clockwise motion and also hummed while playing) to aspects of his own lifestyle, like his famous scarf. He liked warm temperatures, for example in his recording studio, and outside he was once arrested while sitting on a bench after being mistaken for a vagrant because of his attire of coat(s), hat and mittens. He also strongly disliked being touched. He received many awards, both before and after hid death, but didn't seem to really care because he loathed competition in music. He is believed to have been autistic in various books, the first being Glenn Gould: The Ecstasy and Tragedy of Genius by psychiatrist Peter Ostwald, a friend of Gould's. Other sources are The Genesis of Artistic Creativity by Michael Fitzgerald, Asperger’s and Self-Esteem: Insight and Hope through Famous Role Models by Norm Ledgin, Asperger Syndrome and High Achievement by Ioan James and Create Your Own Economy by Tyler Cowen. Read more about the life, achievements, awards and eccentricities of this extraordinary genius on his Wikipedia page,