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#3089543 03/05/21 12:25 PM
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Just read an interview with Stephen Posen ( the Sole Executor of the Estate of Glenn Gould ). Towards the end he briefly touches on Gould's Focal Dystonia and suspect Asperger's. The Dystonia part came as a shock to me, it doesn't mention exactly what finger or part of the hand, but watching a video of him playing when he was older ( dystonia often manifests itself later in life ) his left hand seems a bit suspect, in particular, the stiff thumb. Anyone else notices this?



Regarding his Asperger's and having struggled with a similar disorder, I believe he may have had ADHD, not Asperger's.

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Leon Fleisher developed focal dystonia also, early - age 36, and it killed his concert career. Sadly, it was not a well understood malady and only definitively diagnosed some 30+ years later. Leon turned to repertoire for the left hand and made a fabulous go of it. With various treatments he was eventually able to play with two hands again in the late 1990's. But the real magic and achievement of his career, and his real love, was the role he took on as a teacher and he eventually became Chair of Piano at the Peabody Institute. I feel privileged to have heard him play Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 12, K. 414 with the Baltimore Symphony at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall when he turned 90. He signed two copies of his autobiography, My Nine Lives, for me after the concert and we had a nice conversation about Bach's Sheep May Safely Graze. He was an amazing and humble man who overcame the major challenges in his life.

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Don't forget Gary Graffman, who also had his successful concert career sidelined by FD. He also went on to chair a music school, Curtis but sadly never was able to resume any semblance of a performing life like Leon. He's 92 now.


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But do you people think Gould had dystonia ? It's the first I've heard of it. And it seems unbelievable he kept playing in spite of it .

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First I've heard of it. The slap on the back by the Steinway technician certainly hurt! You can tell why from his posture.

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Originally Posted by EDV
But do you people think Gould had dystonia ? It's the first I've heard of it. And it seems unbelievable he kept playing in spite of it .

I am not an expert, but it does not look like Gould was officially diagnosed with FD. I think that is a deduction made by some people looking at some footage. I could be wrong though.

And i think the actual root of the issue is not very clearly established. There seems to be various cases.

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Dystonia is not well understood even today, imagine back then. Same with Asperger's and ADHD. To his contemporaries , Gould was just eccentric.

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Originally Posted by EDV
Dystonia is not well understood even today, imagine back then. Same with Asperger's and ADHD. To his contemporaries , Gould was just eccentric.

Anyway, he was definitely full of strange habits and peculiar behavior. He was taking a lof of various medications, some pretty strong, so all this must have had an effect.

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I saw a documentary on YouTube about his recording process. I think it was called "Off the record" or something. Didn't come across as someone with Asperger's there. In fact he seemed quite talkative and social at times. But somewhere else he mentioned he hated crowds. Interesting to see that in music you have the "lone wolf" type of reclusive artists like Gould and also the charismatic concert star like Liszt, who loved crowds and women and was friends with everybody.

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OT:

The noted pianist and teacher Hung-Kuan Chen also suffered from FD as a result of a hand injury when working on his attic, and he likes to share his experience on how he overcame the problem.

BTW, I don't think Liszt exactly enjoyed his concerting career and eventually got burned out at quite an early age. On the other hand, it's well known that Clara Schumann thrived on it (granted that her schedule was less hectic, however her situation were even more difficult). She didn't have an agent, and on average had to write 10 letters (or was it 5) herself to arrange for each concert. I also found Arthur Rubinstein's comment on her about her personality and her influences on Robert intriguing and somewhat puzzling.

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Originally Posted by EDV
I saw a documentary on YouTube about his recording process. I think it was called "Off the record" or something. Didn't come across as someone with Asperger's there. In fact he seemed quite talkative and social at times. But somewhere else he mentioned he hated crowds. Interesting to see that in music you have the "lone wolf" type of reclusive artists like Gould and also the charismatic concert star like Liszt, who loved crowds and women and was friends with everybody.

Asperger syndrome doesn't mean people don't socialize and talk. They can be very social and verbal, but will misread certain social cues, or don't read them at all.

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Glenn Gould has certainly attitude of either a heightened arrogance or Aspergers - which one difficult to say. There is a lecture of his calling out Mozart in his later years as a bad composer or "corporate memo" writer....funny he was.

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Perhaps on a somewhat lighter note there was
also the hilariously comedic side of Gould:



He really must have loved playing the piano!

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Originally Posted by grand_BB_71
Perhaps on a somewhat lighter note there was
also the hilariously comedic side of Gould:



He really must have loved playing the piano!

Not that awful chair, which squeaked. I wish his father had been a better chair maker, for he would have used glue and not screws to build that wooden chair. I built four dining chairs. We have used them for perhaps fifteen years, and they do not squeak.

Of course, I do not carrying them around and expect them to fold.

I don’t like Gould’s chair, and I don’t like his Bach, although, of course, I have listened to both.

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Gould was very unkind to composers he felt were "unworthy" of being played - e.g. Xaver Scharwenka, late Mozart, most non-contrapuntal music, and of course Liszt (subtracting his transcriptions of Beethoven symphonies).

His comment on the Scharwenka First Piano Concerto, a concerto Earl Wild and Marc-André Hamelin both recorded, "the Scharwenka B-flat minor horror".

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