Notebook

It was the obsessive need for control that made him refuse virtually all interviews unless he could first know all the questions in advance and then eventually write all the questions himself. It was the need for control that made him conduct most of these interviews by means of the telephone and the tape recorder. Gould thought that he was a master of faked improvisation (“Well, Glenn, don’t you think…?”), but it is startling to hear some of the tapes that were occasionally made of genuine conversations, and to hear how much more genial and friendly he could become when the interviewing stopped…

Still, the telephone not only preserved his sense of privacy but gave him great opportunities for variety in his social life. Toronto might be a little provincial but the telephone made it possible to have long and frequent conversations with friends in Montreal, New York, London. Gould’s rules were, as usual, quite rigid. You did not call him; he called you. If you called him, you got an answering service (though he often eavesdropped on another phone). He might or might not call back, when he chose (always late at night), and for as long as he chose. Often for hours on end, Gould would read some new manuscript, or he would sing at great length some new musical discovery. Occasionally, at two or three in the morning, one of his listeners would drift off to sleep, and then wake to the sound of Gould sharply asking, “Hello? Hello? Are you there?”

Otto Friedrich, “Glenn Gould: A Life and Variations”.

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