Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Piano and the Media

It has been a busy two weeks, which featured two quick trips to Toronto.

It's a long story, or could be, but I am going to write only a very brief summary here: both for the record and as a place to store the various links that I will post as we go along.

The story actually began back in the forties, or maybe even the thirties, when Sue's parents, who were not yet her parents, came to know the Goulds. The Goulds had produced a little Gould named Glenn, who would go on to become a world-renown pianist.

As a girl, Sue took piano lessons from Glenn Gould's mother, and Sue's family ended up purchasing Glenn Gould's first piano as he moved on to finer instruments which better suited his prodigious talents. At the time, although they didn't realize it until years later when they first peered into the inner recess, he inscribed the piano to Sue.

As, you can see from the inscription, that was in 1955, and Sue would faithfully practice on the piano for many years. But Sue wasn't Glenn Gould, and as time moved on and her interest waned, and she lost touch with the instrument.

Without going into the piano's meanderings from then until now, let's just say that it arrived at her sister's house a few years ago. But what to do with this bit of Canadiana? It shouldn't be left sitting unused and unappreciated in someone's private living room.

And then, connections were made with the Glenn Gould Foundation, and Sue and Heather gladly donated the piano to them. The foundation wanted to know it's history as well as the whole family connection to Glenn and his parents, so Sue and Heather spent a lot of time piecing together their memories. Sue had her personal memories, while Heather, the youngest who remained in the family home or close to it long after Sue had moved away, had learned more background from her parents.

For weeks, the two collaborated, and Heather wonderfully wove the two threads together into one narrative, which will be unveiled in installments on the foundations website. Once this is completed, I will likely post of it here.

Although this complete written narrative is to be unveiled later, it was completed in time for the inauguration Glenn Gould Day in Toronto on September 25th, Gould's birthday. The foundation also wanted to make a bit of a splash for that day, so in preparation, they asked the sisters to come to their office for a video interview. And so, we made our first foray to the big city a week before the official unveiling.

Before recording the video, the ladies visited with Glenn outside the CBC studios.

They then visited the Glenn Gould display inside, where Sue posed with Glenn's later piano.

In this next photo they are standing next to a photo of a very young Glenn Gould playing what they believe became Sue's piano: the one that they have now donated.

Then, they were off to the very cramped Glenn Gould Foundation office for the video interview.

This is the full video as posted on the Glenn Gould Foundation website which, I warn you, is 33 minutes long. The cover frame is of Heather and her dad, for he plays quite a part in the story.


It had been a nerve-wracking ordeal for Sue to prepare for and then sit through an half hour video, but the interview was done soon enough, and home we came.

But in point of fact, it was not done, for the CBC got hold of the story and wanted to run with it on September 25th, Toronto's very first Glenn Gould Day. First, they called Heather for a phone interview (sorry, no link), but that wasn't enough to satisfy them. No, they decided that they wanted both ladies to appear for interviews both on radio and television on the exact day.

For the second time in a week, or just slightly over, we made the four-hour journey to Toronto, and Sue and Heather took the train to downtown the next day.

But first: on the night prior to their media appearances, Sue's sleep was interrupted by a CBC reporter whose job it was to post a web page. This is the link; while it isn't as complete as the piano's history that will eventually be published, it is much fuller than my brief overview above. It recounts more of the relationship between the girls' parents and Glenn's parents and, among other things, how their father, Louis Morton, would help to make sure that Glenn's piano got to their family cottage on Lake Simcoe, for Glenn didn't want to be without it, even for a weekend. It also mentions the since-lost postcard that Sue received from Glenn from Vienna while he was on his European tour.

On September 25th, Glenn Gould Day, they were interviewed for the news Toronto: At 6:00. This is the link for the whole televised news hour, which I wish I could embed, but I can't. Their interview is only two minutes, which you can see by advancing to the 48 minute mark. It will take a few minutes to buffer to that point, but it beats listening to 48 minutes. (I wish I could capture just their short segment for posterity, but I haven't been able to manage that feat yet.)

They did the radio interview next although it aired first. link

That about wraps up the media frenzy for this blog, with the fuller written account yet to come, but there was also one more bit of exposure for Heather in her local paper. This link contains a few more photos as well a clip of Glenn Gould.

I almost forgot about the chair: Glenn's special chair, the chair he took with him for concerts all around the world. You see, it was made by Sue and Heather's father, Louis Morton who was an extremely gifted DIY-er. There is a photo of Glenn in his unique and somewhat famous chair at the CBC Glenn Gould Studio. It is between Sue and Heather in the following photo.


Tabor said...

What a great and precious connection. How wonderful!

MARY G said...

How splendid. Good for them. And thanks for the links.

Vicki Lane said...

Oh, my! What a story! And even the chair is a part of it.

Shammickite said...

I saw the CBC interview in the telly last week, and I posted a comment about it then.

Jenn Jilks said...

This is a fun read! Such history! Both the piano and the chair.

Marie Smith said...

How wonderful for the sisters and the whole family to have their family history recognized through the Gould connection! Great story, AC.

Hena Tayeb said...

Oh that's wonderful and looks like the ladies had a lovely time.

Mage said...

I have always loved the Variations, and now I know what the noise is in the background...his humming. Thank you for this wonderful post and the links that enlarge the story.

Kay said...

Oh wow! This is so much fun. I can see why it was a bit nerve wracking for Sue, but this is so special. She is part of history.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

What a great family connection. Your post was fairly thorough, John, but I will follow the link to read more.

Doris Potter said...

This was delightful! I watched/listened to every interview and enjoyed them immensely. Kudos to Sue and Heather for their composure and story-telling abilities, and, of course, for their generous donation of this piano.

Jenny Woolf said...

Wow how fascinating to have this amazing connection! The links are so interesting. I have always wondered what Glenn Gould was like when young, I have been hearing his playing for decades but never found out much about his life till now.

MA said...

Fascinating and a wonderful story, John & Suzanne! You haven't changed a bit, Suzanne. xox Marianne

Ruth said...

I enjoyed the story and media links very much. I own a number of GG recordings and have a photo of myself with his statue as well. No one would have had any idea how famous he would become after autographing the piano.