Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Touched: Gould Standard

Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Touched: Gould Standard

Article excerpt

The piano virtuoso Glenn Gould was known for his eccentricities. Some of his recordings feature him humming (or, to some ears, groaning) over the music. He wore coats and gloves even in hot weather. And he hated physical contact. One instance of unwanted touching provoked him to cancel concerts and file a lawsuit, Brian Dillon recounts in The Hypochondriacs (Faber & Faber).

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

In late 1959, Gould visited the Steinway & Sons piano company in New York City. An employee named William Hupfer, in Hupfer's account, patted him on the shoulder. Gould said, "Don't do that; I don't like to be touched." Hupfer apologized.

Within a few weeks, Gould was complaining of severe pain in his left hand. "When X-rayed the shoulder blade was shown to have been pushed down about one-half an inch," he claimed in one letter. In another, he wrote, "At the moment it looks very grim." In 1960 and 1961, he canceled many of his concerts and spent a month in a full-body cast. …

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