Glenn Gould - Some Portraits of the Artist as a Young Man

Glenn Gould - Some Portraits of the Artist as a Young Man

“Don’t worry about it, Mabel. That’s not a crazy man. That’s just Glenn Gould. He’s a musician. He’s pretending to be an orchestra.”

Mabel, a black chambermaid, thought that there was a crazy man in Room 421. Dave Richardson, the young assistant manager of the Fort Montagu Beach Hotel in the Bahamas, had to calm the maid over the telephone.

The book contains 96 pages, most of which are photographs of Glenn Gould that were taken by Jock Carroll in the Bahamas. But really it’s the 20 or so pages of descriptive narrative that are the most interesting and that set the scene for the black and white pictures to come.

Jock Carroll had been assigned to travel with Glenn Gould on a two-week vacation to the Bahamas. From what I’ve read about Glenn I can’t possibly imagine him really taking a holiday, much less choosing a fortnight in the sun. Glenn’s mother had spoken to Jock and had said to try to get Glenn to buy some new clothes, and also to try to get him out into the sun. Not an easy task. I appears that Glenn spent the first two days in his room with the curtains closed.

From what I’ve read previously, from various sources, the story ticks all the correct boxes: Glenn’s erratic driving, wearing jackets, coats, hats, scarves and gloves, seemingly at all times, no matter what the weather and taking different pills. Things I hadn’t read about before were: a mention of girl-friends (telephonic ones of course), psychiatrists, lighting matches and a phobia about eating in public. This eating hysteria was becoming a problem as he was soon to start a Russian tour.

The photographs show a fresh-faced, 23 year old Gould at the start of his career. The ones that are most interesting aren’t the ones showing him walking on the beach wearing his hat and jacket but the ones sat as the piano. The hotel had a nightclub and so between 2 and 4 in the morning Glenn was allowed to play just to Jock and his camera. They show Glenn playing a white grand piano, make unknown, sat on what seems to be a normal chair, with the spotlights shining down on him. Glenn is playing in his shirt sleeves and operating the pedals with his sock clad feet.

For any Glenn Gould fan, a book certainly worth hunting down.