Glenn Gould – A Life Off Tempo


By Sandrine Revel, translated by Montana Kane (NBM)
ISBN: 978-1-68112-065-2

Win’s Christmas Gift Recommendation: A Classical Interlude with real Artistic Appeal… 10/10

Publisher NBM have struck a seam of gold with their growing line of European biographies and their latest is one of the most impressive and thought-provoking to date.

Glenn Gould – A Life Off Tempo has been lovingly crafted by Sandrine Revel, author, cartoonist and comics artist (Jouvence la Bordelaise, Sorcellerie et dependences, Résurgences, Femmes en voie de resociabilisation, Le Jardin Autre Monde) as well as journalistic press illustrator for Sud Ouest Dimanche, Milan Presse and other magazines.

She’s also a devoted and passionate fan of the star of this elegiac and beguiling book: so much so that she’s also provided a menu of Appendices at the back to augment your appreciation and understanding of an archetypal troubled genius…

Painted in a number of extremely welcoming and effective styles, A Life Off Tempo offers up snippets from the strange, solitary and woefully short life of a Canadian musical child prodigy who hit the heights, changed the scene and left the world early as all revelatory, game-changing artists seem to do…

As you’ll see here, Gould – dubbed “the JD Salinger of the classical music world” – died in 1982 as the result of a stroke, nearly fifty years after his birth, and it’s as he dies that we share moments of his clearly difficult life, all deftly woven into a non-chronological narrative, dotted with observation from the paltry few people he allowed to get close to him.

You may or may not know he was a classical pianist with a unique style and manner who revolutionised how certain pieces were played and heard…

…Or how he opened up the Soviet Union to Western cultural arts tours despite playing less than 200 concerts in his entire career…

…And that he was either crippled by hypochondria ore suffered from a number of physical and psychological ailments as well as what might well have been undiagnosed Asberger’s Syndrome – or an ASD, to use today’s terminology. He certainly loved animals, despised cruelty and always bundled up as if he were freezing to death…

At the height of his fame Gould abandoned live performance to write music and experiment in recording techniques. He became a critic and broadcaster and invented pseudonymous identities so that he could savage his own recordings.

He was clearly a difficult man and beloved mystery to those around him, and this graphic account astutely gives you the how if not always the why…

The deliciously oversized (280 x 208 mm) full-colour, resoundingly substantial hardback is not a formal history or biography text, even though we meet Gould at various stages of his life and share key events and intimate moments.

You obviously won’t feel how his interpretations of hallowed pieces by Bach, Beethoven, William Byrd, Orlando Gibbons, Mozart and more shook up the musical world – although if you follow the aforementioned ‘Appendices’ at the back and listen to the suggested playlist, track down the recordings cited in the ‘Glenn Gould Discography’ or use the ‘Further Reading’ and ‘Further Viewing’ lists to get a firm grip on the maestro’s output you’ll experience the innovation and won’t be at all disappointed…

Impassioned, enchanting and marvellously moving, this enigmatic engagement with a singular creative individual is a fabulous treat for lovers of comics and music and will stay for all time in your head like a favourite tune.
© Dargaud 2016 © 2016 NBM for the English translation.

Glenn Gould – A Life Off Tempo will be released on December 1st 2016. It can be pre-ordered now. It is also available wherever e-books are sold.
For more information and other great reads see http://www.nbmpub.com/