The Great Gould


A startling new portrait of Gould, including never-before-seen material.

Glenn Gould’s astonishing recordings deliver that unmistakable jolt of genius to each generation newly discovering the great Canadian pianist. With the support of the Glenn Gould Estate, Peter Goddard draws on his own interviews with Gould and on new, and in some cases overlooked, sources to present a freshly revealing portrait of Gould’s unsettled life, his radical decision to quit concertizing, his career as a radio innovator, and his deep response to the Canadian environment. Sci-fi and hi-fi, hockey and Petula Clark, Elvis, jazz, chess, the Beatles, and sex — all these inform this exploration of the pianist’s far-reaching imagination. There is even a touching account of the only piano lesson Gould ever gave.

This is the perfect gift for anyone new to classical music and those already immersed in it, for those with an interest in Canadian music, in Glenn Gould himself, and in what led to The Goldberg Variations, one of the greatest recordings in music history.


Heritage Toronto Award, 2018 Historical Writing


Goddard has drawn a comprehensive portrait of the many faces of Gould, from dude to icon, and given us a tour of a life of such protean productivity that one can only be in awe.

Literary Review of Canada

Goddard’s portrait is informative, engaging and full of entertaining nuggets about our country’s classical music genius.

Winnipeg Free Press

Reading Goddard on Gould is like the happy accident of encountering a guy in a bar who can speak with equal ease and authority about pop culture and philosophy, who slides from lowbrow to highbrow in a sentence and who, as it turns out, knew Gould in person and over many years

The Globe and Mail

Perhaps no other Canadian cultural figure who gained international status as an artist remains as elusive as Gould (myth obfuscates as much as it contextualizes), but Goddard tracks him down at the cottage, on stage, and in the studio (real and of Gould’s mind) as none have done before.

J.A. Wainwright, PhD 

Brings a new perspective to the subject.

International Piano Magazine

An interesting supplement to the Glenn Gould craze still surrounding us.

We owe Peter Goddard for his informed, insightful, and well-researched insights into a great Canadian thinker.

The Tyee

An interesting personal account of the pianist’s career by one of Canada’s noteworthy music critics … I warmly recommend this book to Gould aficionados.

CAML Review

About the Author

Peter Goddard

Posted by Kendra on October 27, 2015
Peter Goddard photo

Peter Goddard

Peter Goddard, music, film, and visual arts critic for the Toronto Star (and a winner of a National Newspaper Award), has written for radio and TV and a good many magazines. He is the author of The Sounding, a novel, and multiple musical biographies, including those on Ronnie Hawkins, Frank Sinatra, David Bowie, and the Rolling Stones. Trained as an ethnomusicologist, Peter played piano for rock and blues bands.