Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould: Movie Review

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould: Movie Review

Article excerpt

'Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould' delves deeper into the influential pianist's elusive brilliance than any earlier documentary.

Glenn Gould may not have been the first rock star of classical music

- that designation should probably go to Franz Liszt - but he was

certainly the most charismatic of modern pianists. In still photos,

especially the famous ones gracing the cover of his 1955 debut album

of Bach's "Goldberg Variations," he has, at 22, the surly, delicate

handsomeness of a James Dean or Marlon Brando.

The new documentary "Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould"

offers up a wealth of moving pictures of Gould, ranging from concert

footage and recording sessions to goofy home movies, and his movie

star charisma remains amply in evidence.

None of this would matter much if Gould's charisma was not also the

engine of his art. This Torontonian prodigy was one of the finest

pianists of the 20th century, and his talent and his intensity were

all of a piece. No doubt his life was made increasingly miserable

because of his phobias and eccentricities, but when he delved into

the keyboard, especially when playing baroque composers, he was


As a young boy in the early 1960s, I heard him in one of his final

public appearances before he renounced public performances in favor

of the recording studio. I've never forgotten it. Playing Bach

entirely from memory, his hands fitted in gloves with the fingers cut

away, his chair a mere 14 inches high, he seemed both entranced and

hypervigilant. He hummed along to his playing, not to show off but

because he simply could not contain his passion, his joy.

I'm not sure that Gould's "inner life" gets much of an up-close

investigation in "Genius Within," but co-directors Michelle Hozer

and Peter Raymont provide so much footage of him in so many varying

moods that we certainly get a wider glimpse into his outer life. …

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