martes, 12 de enero de 2010

Los perros de Gleen

“By the time I was six I’d already made an important discovery: that I get along much better with animals than with humans”

Glenn ha tenido muchas mascotas, entre ellas dos perros, dos conejos, cuatro carpas (llamadas Bach, Haydn, Chopin y Beethoven), un periquito (Mozart), y por encima de todo; una mofeta. Cantaba a las vacas; “It was an extraordinarily touching occasion. ... I really felt that a very special bond had been established. Certainly I've never encountered so attentive an audience before". El contacto físico lo evitaba con los humanos. Con los animales daba muestras de gran afecto. Se disgustaba ante la diseccion de las ranas, las pieles que vestia su madre o con los latinos por tolerar las corridas de toros. Dijo que caminaba mirando al suelo para evitar pisar a los insectos.

En el verano de 1939 mientras pescaba con su padre: “I suddenly saw this thing entirely from the fish point of view”… trato de devolverlo al agua, se rieron de el. 10 años después logro que su padre dejara de pescar; “probably the greatest thing I have ever done”.

By the age of 12, Gould's preference for animal companionship found further artistic expression in the composition of a libretto in which the dominance of the human race was supplanted by an empire of animals. "In Act I," he recalled, "the entire human population was to be wiped out and in Act II they were to be replaced by a superior breed of frogs." (These for whom he had even composed a few bars of a chorus in the key of E major, despite an admitted "casting problem.")

Jessie Grieg, Glenn's cousin and closest confidante, believed: "His happiness came from his pets ... They just loved and adored him, and he them. He loved to take the dog out to exercise him and he would start running in a circle and Nicky would follow behind him and run after him, and then he would work Nicky up to such a frantic pace that Nicky would become [over]excited." Some forty years on, the memory of what once happened still elicited laughter from Jessie. "One day he grabbed Glenn by the seat of the pants and pulled the whole rear end out of his pants, and Glenn fled into the house in just absolute horror."

Such embarrassing behavioural infractions notwithstanding, animals were the ideal audience, offering approval without applause (a vexing practice Gould once half-jokingly proposed to ban from his concerts), neither criticizing his unorthodox musical choices nor voicing objection to the performance mannerisms that some critics could not abide. In other words, dogs were unconditionally devotional, reliably nonjudgmental, and exhibited superior musical taste.
From his celebrated 1957 concert tour in the Soviet Union, he even penned a postcard to "Mr. Banquo Gould" at 32 Southwood Drive, Toronto:
Dear Banquo,

Thought you might like to know about the dogs here. One sees very few indeed. Most of them were killed in the war and since then it seems to be considered very bourgeois to keep a pet. The most prevalent variety is a sort of unclipped poodle-a few mongrels and no collies whatsoever. You would have the field all to yourself if you were here. You would have been able to break up a cat fight outside my window this morning. Clean up your dish like a good dog. GG

Just two years later while on a walk with his father, the spirited collie dashed in front of a car and was killed. "He never had any pets later in his life,"
One need not be a dog to be a Glenn Gould devotee. With animals, as with his music, Glenn Gould was free to be his uncensored self.

The last dated letter in the National Library's Gould collection is a response to a request for permission to use his music. He wrote: "I'd be delighted to have you make use of the Bach C Major Prelude and Fugue in your film. As it happens, animal welfare is one of the great passions of my life, and if you'd asked to use my entire recorded output in support of such a cause, I couldn't possibly have refused."
It was not to be. Two days after his fiftieth birthday in 1982, Glenn Gould suffered a massive stroke and slipped into a coma. He died a week later on October 4, the saint's day of Francis of Assisi, patron of animals and animal welfare societies. Gould had bequeathed his considerable estate in equal portions to the Salvation Army and the Toronto Humane Society.

I asked Amy White, Director of Communications for the Humane Society, how important the Glenn Gould endowment was for them and what it continues to mean for the organization. "Thanks to the bequest in Glenn Gould's will, we have been able to do a lot for animals. We continue to receive royalties and we rely heavily on this ongoing funding. It enables us to help more than 12,000 animals a year." The Toronto Humane Society cares for all types of animal and, contrary to popular belief, does not euthanize the unfortunates who remain unadopted. "Without the continuing help of Glenn Gould's generous gift, it would be very difficult for us."

“Cuando era chaval tenía un perro que se llamaba Nick. Tenía un bonito pelaje negro y blanco. Mientras me vestía con mi mejor traje oscuro para mi primer concierto con orquesta, mi padre me aconsejó mantener alejado a Nick, cosa más fácil de decir que de hacer. Nick era afectuoso y no te dejaba partir hacia una misión difícil sin antes despedirse efusivamente. La cosa es que en el transcurso del concierto miré hacia el suelo y vi mi reluciente pantalón repleto de pelos de perro. Yo no veía nada malo en el asunto pero, para no delatar las efusiones de Nick sabiendo que mis padres estaban entre bastidores, decidí limpiar mis pantalones.Los muchos tutti de la orquesta en el finale eran la ocasión soñada para efectuar la Operación “fuera pelos” y me puse manos a la obra. Uno, dos, tal vez tres tutti habían transcurrido ya y la operación estaba casi acabada. Pero una pregunta empezó a rondar mi cabeza: ¿Por dónde iba el concierto? No vi el problema hasta el final de ese tutti, fuera cual fuera. Intenté desesperadamente recordar lo que, aparte de quitar pelos de mi pantalón, había hecho durante los últimos 5 minutos.

Fue la primera lección de mi colaboración con una orquesta sinfónica: o estás muy atento a lo que haces, o acércate sólo a perros de pelo corto”

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