This evocative, detailed account of the compulsive search for a sensitive, highly responsive concert piano by Canadian musical wunderkind Glenn Gould combines the parallel histories of one of the most controversial and brilliant pianists of the last century and the incredible keyboard instrument on which he played for some of his most important recordings. Hafner, a New York Timescorrespondent, presents a fascinating biography of Gould, who was known for his quirks, including his wearing of winter gear on summer days, his donning of fingerless gloves while playing, his manic fear of germs and hand shaking. The book will greatly appeal to those intrigued by the history of the influential German-bred Steinway piano company, but it is the close interaction of Gould and Charles Verne Edquist, the nearly blind piano tuner, with a Steinway CD 318 concert piano, that lift the book above the usual biography. This book will aid the reader to fully appreciate Gould's creative work in interpreting the early sonatas of Mozart and his majestic rendition of the Goldberg Variations. (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This book's title is a quote from Glenn Gould in reference to his relationship with Steinway piano CD 318, the instrument on which he performed nearly all his recordings. Author and New York Times correspondent Hafner's (The House at the Bridge: A Story of Modern Germany) recounting of his search for that instrument reads like a tragic love story-from the hunt for the perfect partner to attainment and fulfillment and, finally, the bereavement over the demise of the beloved. Hafner, in writing an entire book on such a narrow subject, reveals herself as an extraordinary storyteller. Of course, she has the benefit of the eccentric and iconic figure of Gould as the major player of her story, but she also concentrates on Verne Edquist, the technician who regulated CD 318; the factory that made the piano; the department store auditorium where Gould first met his love; and the life of CD 318 after his death. A book for Gould fans, piano lovers, and those who enjoy an unusual tale well told. Highly recommended.
Timothy J. McGee
A pianist's love affair with his instrument, and the blind man who enabled it. Glenn Gould (1932-82) was one of the most respected artists of classical music's modern era. Piano tuner Charles Verne Edquist, on the other hand, is known only to a handful of music buffs. Both men were still boys in 1942, when the designers and manufacturers at Steinway & Sons began work on CD 318, a concert grand that Gould would one day conclude was the perfect instrument-and that Edquist would spend two decades tuning and revivifying from the pianist's hard use. It wasn't until 1960, four years after Gould became a classical bestseller with his recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations, that he sat down to play CD 318 in a concert hall on the top floor of Toronto's premier department store. It would be two more years before Gould connected with Edquist, who spent much of the next two decades adjusting CD 318 to meet the pianist's demands for "hair-trigger action and lightning-fast repetition." Plucky New York Times correspondent Hafner (Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet, 1996, etc.) weaves together three stories-of the pianist, the tuner and the piano itself-into a single cohesive narrative, the musical version of Seabiscuit (2001), as it were. She's not distracted by Gould's legendary quirks (the germ phobia, the grunting and whistling while performing) or his formidable loquacity. Drawing on hours of recorded interviews, she filters out the redundant and inconsequential to lucidly grasp the essential: the complex interaction among an artist, a craftsman and the precious tool they both revered. Written with authority and enthusiasm, a treat for armchair musicologists, Gould fanaticsand even those who never heard a note he played. Agent: Katinka Matson/Brockman