Friday, September 07, 2007

Music Appreciation, Fall 2007: Glenn Gould

You-Tube is changing the way we do music studies.

First there were records, and tapes, and CDs. And videos from the library.

Then there were sites where you could download classical music--those were sometimes hard to use.

And then came You-Tube. Suddenly we can watch people singing, any time, from Pavarotti to Weird Al and Granny Clampett. We can watch Rubinstein playing the piano and Charlie Parker jamming with Dizzy Gillespie. This magic box has become magic indeed. How can we make the best use of it for school?

Our music appreciation studies this term are going to use both Mr. Fixit's record collection and You-Tube videos (or the same performances on video/DVD, if we can borrow them from the library). We're going to spend several weeks listening to--and watching--Glenn Gould's piano performances, particularly his Bach recordings; and then several weeks listening to--and watching--Liona Boyd's guitar recordings. (I'll save the Boyd notes for a later post.) For both of these Canadian performers, what we hear is enhanced by being able to see what their hands do, and the whole performance. Watching Gould play the Keyboard Concerto No.1 in D minor is a revelation for anyone who ever thought that Bach was dull.

So our Gould/Bach lineup looks like this:

The Goldberg Variations: from Gould's 1981 re-recording. From an Amazon review: "Based on knowing the Goldberg variations for about 35 years, and Gould's second interpretation for 18+, I can only consider this recording as the greatest tribute ever paid to the ultimate composer. If this world would come to an end and only one object of human creativity could remain, it should be this interpretation." Some You-Tube videos here (just a search page, nothing will load). Glenn Gould explains in an interview why he wanted to re-record the variations.

Partitas: we have a recording made in the Netherlands that doesn't seem to be available anywhere online. Here's a You-Tube search page of Gould playing them.

Well-Tempered Clavier (Prelude and Fugue in C minor, Book I): video here.

"So You Want to Write a Fugue" (I love this)

If we have any time left, we'll listen to/watch some Gould performances of other composers: Beethoven, Schoenberg, even Mozart (a composer he's not really associated with).

There's an essay about Gould's life here; beware a bit of family-unfriendliness towards the end. Also the very extensive Canadian Encyclopedia article on him. And the CBC Glenn Gould archives, and more here (includes video clips). And the big archive at Collections Canada.


Tim's Mom said...

These sound great! I've looked up historic figure-skating events on YouTube, but I never thought to look for music!

Karen E. said...

We're listening to Bach all month, and just had Gould's Goldberg Variations on the other day!

JacciM said...

Now that's thinking outside of the tree, Mama Squirrel :) Great ideas. Hubby and I enjoyed watching one of the links you shared, too. Thanks!

Amber (Homeschool Diva) said...

I love the you tube idea! I use it for tons of other things but never thought of that!


timbuck2mom said...

What a good idea to show clips of the composers on You Tube. Thanks for the suggestions.


keri said...

I visit YouTube often.
Great idea for looking up composers!

School for Us said...

Thanks for some wonderful links! We've been enjoying listening to and watching some music videos tonight.

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