Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Private language of music

I love the film in which Glenn Gould plays the Goldberg Variations. What a beautiful procession! Aria, 30 variations, and then aria again. At the end of the finger maneuvers, Gould holds his hands together in a gesture in which he appears to be praying. Then his whole performance impresses one as a dedication to the spirit of music, with a beautiful hindsight.

I love this set of variations from the great composer, J. S. Bach. The 30th variation, with its jovial start, always strikes me as if a huge plateful of delicious dish was being carried from the kitchen with great solemnity, to the shining eyes of the beholders.
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.
Gould's music is as close as one can come to the impossibility of the private language of music, sensu Ludwig Wittgenstein.

2 comments:

砂山鉄夫(Tetsu Sunayama) said...

Gould and Wittgenstein...very difficult. But it's interesting.

To pianists and other musicians, his or her tone and/or sound might be language for expression.

In that sense, linguistic philosophy is related to music...

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