Letter: Portrait of a great eccentric musician

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Sir: It's rare to read a review that touches truth with such uncanny insight as does Adam Mars-Jones ('Lost in Music', 17 June) in his comments on 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould. .

As a lifetime friend, neighbour, and confidant of Glenn's since our Toronto student days when he was 12, I have watched with dismay the crescendo of distortions of this phenomenal pianist's somewhat eccentric mode of life onstage and off, at the expense of understanding his pursuit of perfection in his art. Glenn was a Thoreau in his own Walden world of solitude, yet like Thoreau, loved dialogue in the midst of wilderness.

Not to drink, to be uncomfortable in crowds, to not need the applause of audiences, to scare fish away from fishermen at the family cottage long before Greenpeace is, as fashion goes, uncommon and offbeat. But one of the attractions of English society is its traditional acceptance of eccentrics. Live and let live is surely an admirable philosophy. Francois Girard articulates this common sense in his film, and Adam Mars-Jones imparts it through his recital of Glenn Gould's nonconformities. The prodigy's manners never bothered his father, now 93, as he recalled to me in Toronto only a month ago, nor his peers, chums, or technicians at CBS or the CBC.

The various asides of Adam Mars-Jones reveal more of the Glenn Gould I knew for nearly 40 years than I thought possible outside Glenn's circle of close friends. My applause to your critic, whose perceptions reach beyond illusion to realities of genius in this phenomenal musician who died before his time.




North Yorkshire

19 June

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