On the airplane, I was thinking again about Glenn Gould.
In an earlier post ("Private language of music", 14th October 2009), I wrote:
I have a hunch why Gould refrained from playing in the public later in his career. The presence of attentive minds is a great stimulator. On the other hand, it sometimes stimulates one in a vulgar way. One would like to entertain, and therefore goes out of the way. A great art lies there, so it is not necessarily a bad thing. However, it is at the same time a distraction from purity, which Gould probably hated.
For a performer like Vladimir Horowitz, the audience is a godsend. Gould, on the other hand, thrived in the absolute privacy.
The crucial thing is that the very nature of music is transformed in the presence of others. We are social beings, and confronting others come so naturally to us. However, it also affects our existence. Maybe it is the original sin.
In a sense, Glenn Gould was trying the impossible. How to make music without the presence of an audience. It is like forgetting how one looked in the mirror. Knowledge has tainted our consciousness, and we simply cannot go back. The bliss of ignorance is never to return, not even as a momentary lapse, as in the unconscious there would be always knowledge.
Sometimes beauty holds a terrible truth. Gould's music is a Pandora's box.