Glenn Gould Variations: a two-day event in Toronto inspired by Gould's awesomeness

The Glenn Gould Variations is a new conference/event in Toronto mounted by the Glenn Gould Foundation Glenn Gould Estate, dedicated to the kind of odd, creative, quirky and thoughtful ideas that Gould was known for. The inaugural event, called "DREAMERS RENEGADES VISIONARIES," will be held in Toronto on Sept 22/23 at the University of Toronto's Convocation Hall. There are over 50 presenters, performers and speakers (including me!), and it promises to be quite an event.

Update: Ron Davis from the Foundation sez, "Dreamers, Renegades, Visionaries: The Glenn Gould Variations is presented by U of T in association with the Glenn Gould Estate. The Foundation is one of several supporters of our event. But the Foundation is independent of it."

Filmmakers, dancers, choreographers, voices, music makers, DJs, visual artists and music producers, mix it up with philosophers, futurists, journalists, media mavens, historians, and provocateurs who defy description!

The "immersive experience" of DREAMERS RENEGADES VISIONARIES: The Glenn Gould Variations is accessible and affordable (a first for Toronto!) for everybody, inspiring and provoking creativity in thought, word and deed with no boundaries…just like Gould himself.

This provocative mix of performance and talk is inspired by Canadian icon and multi-media innovator Glenn Gould, and part of the celebrations marking the 80th year of Gould's birth.


(Disclosure: I am a volunteer member of the Glenn Gould Foundation's advisory board)


  1. When I drive east on Ste-Catherine street and approach Atwater –  something I haven’t done in years – I usually suddenly remember “this is where I was when I heard that Glenn Gould had died.”

    After he retired from public performances, he worked quite a bit on ideas, and on ‘Ideas’ (the CBC’s show).  If you can dig out his ‘The Idea of North’, it’s worth a listen.

  2. Americans never got to really know who he was. But yes, awesomeness is just the right word. Possibly the first classical player to say “Screw concerts. Recordings are where it’s at.”

    My only regret (other than not running into him while I was visiting Toronto in the late 70’s…hey, I hung out at Fran’s!) is that he never hooked up with Ray Manzarek….something tells me that the meeting would be EPIC.

  3. This just reminds me of one of the impenetrable mysteries of musical art: that such a “renegade” would hate a composer like Chopin, whose picture should be next to the dictionary definition of that word. It’s especially weird when you consider that Gould brought to Bach the same vocal inspiration and harmonic insight that Chopin brought to the piano. Whenever I think about it, I wind up shrugging and thinking, “maybe they were too much alike…”

  4. If you haven’t seen it, “32 Short Films About Glenn Gould” is an awesome but idiosyncratic biopic in keeping with the equally idiosyncratic pianist. Colm Fiore does a great job as Gould. NFB at its finest.

  5. Gould didn’t defy description. He was an incredibly talented pianist. He also happened to have a (then) iconoclastic attitude to performance vs. recording, which has subsequently become more widespread. It is painful to see the line of people with way less talent than Gould had in his right pinky finger crown themselves (or more often, be crowned) with his mantle just because they did something strange or had a more open relationship with technology and new ideas than their peers. Such things are wonderful and welcome, but they do not (by themselves) make the person  into someone who is even in the vicinity of Gould’s talent and abilities. The reason why Gould was so notable was precisely this combination of incredible talent with an attitude more typically found in people that are just not that good at their chosen art. You don’t get to be like Gould by sharing only one of those attributes, as most of us are unfortunately saddled with.

  6. I’ll never forget the first time I heard Gould’s ‘Aria da Capo’ It left me speechless for several minutes. It takes a lot make me shut up :)

    1.  Yeah, whenever I think of the Goldberg Variations, it’s the ‘Aria da Capo’ that runs through my head.

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