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.


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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