Goldberg Week

A Glenn Gould 'Goldbergs' Listening Party

Glenn Gould's 1955 recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations instantly launched his international career. i i

Glenn Gould's 1955 recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations instantly launched his international career. Don Hunstein/Sony Classical Archive hide caption

itoggle caption Don Hunstein/Sony Classical Archive
Glenn Gould's 1955 recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations instantly launched his international career.

Glenn Gould's 1955 recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations instantly launched his international career.

Don Hunstein/Sony Classical Archive

Canadian pianist Glenn Gould was only 22 years old when he released his debut recording, and that 1955 traversal of Bach's Goldberg Variations proved to be a revelation. Decades later, Gould disparaged that version — he called it full of "things that pass for expressive fervor in your average conservatory" — and he recorded it twice more, in a 1959 Salzburg concert and a contemplative 1981 studio recording. But that brilliant debut still stands as a landmark.

The Cover of Glenn Gould's breakthrough Bach LP.

The Cover of Glenn Gould's breakthrough Bach LP. Sony hide caption

itoggle caption Sony

To cap off our week devoted to the Goldbergs, we held on an online listening party. We streamed Gould's 1955 recording, and we invited two special guests to join us to chat about the pianist's achievement. Pulitzer Prize-winning classical music critic, author and University of Southern California professor Tim Page — a Gould confidante — and Washington Post critic Anne Midgette were on hand to take another listen with us. You can hear an archived version of the Listening Party at the listen link at the top of this page. (Sorry, we couldn't keep the entire album in the archive version of the original discussion.)