A Romance on Three Legs

A Romance on Three Legs

Glenn Gould's Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Piano

Book - 2008
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A fascinating story, with a wealth of neatly drawn characters and dripping with vivid details, that is sometimes touching, sometimes whimsical, always interesting. -- Kevin Bazzana Glenn Gould was famous for his obsessions: the scarves, sweaters, and fingerless gloves that he wore even on the hottest summer day; his deep fear of germs and illness; the odd wooden pygmy chair that he carried with him around the world, wherever he performed; and his sudden withdrawal from the public stage at the peak of his career. But perhaps Gould's greatest obsession of all was for a particular piano, a Steinway concert grand known as CD 318 (C to signify its special status as having been put aside for the use of Steinway Concert Artists, and D, denoting it as the largest that Steinway built). A Romance on Three Legs is the story of Gould's love for this piano, from the first moment of discovery, in a Toronto department store, to the tragic moment when the piano was dropped and seriously damaged while being transported. In presenting the story of CD 318, Hafner also introduces us to the world and art of piano tuning, including a central character in Gould's life, the nearly blind tuner Verne Edquist, who lovingly attended to CD 318 for more than two decades. We learn how a concert grand is built, and the fascinating story of how Steinway & Sons weathered the war years by supplying materials for the military effort. A Romance on Three Legs is a treat for readers new to and familiar with the life of this eccentric and captivating man.
Publisher: Toronto : McClelland & Stewart, c2008
ISBN: 9780771037542
Branch Call Number: 786.2092 HAF 2008 22
Characteristics: 259 p. : ill., ports. ; 22 cm


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Dec 03, 2016

Reading this book was a follow-up after reading Madeleine Thien’s ‘Do Not Say We Have Nothing,’ which features many references to Gould’s playing of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. You’ll learn about Glenn Gould’s life, his piano tuner and his storied piano.

First half good; second half Gould’s own quirks and obsessions made me want to get to the end. Fascinating.

Jan 06, 2016

I confess that I read this book in less than 24 hours. It is part biography of Gould, part history of Steinway pianos (and why he loved his piano, the CD 318) - and part biography of Verne Edquist, Gould's full-time piano technician. Near the end of the book there is a wonderful bit of information concerning the Voyager I spacecraft and Edquist's reaction to it. I wish the author had included a discography of Gould's recordings made on his beloved CD 318.

cbechstein Sep 30, 2010

This fascinating book details the history of the relationship between Glenn Gould and the Steinway piano CD314. Goud made many of his legendary recordings on this instrument. CD314 was a piano in the concert piano fleet of the former Eaton's department store in Toronto. While it had been dismissed as an awful instrument by such luminaries as Myra Hess, when Gould first tried the instrument, he instantly identified with the sound and feel of the piano. Much of the book describes how this piano became a laboratory for Gould to experiment with the touch and sound of the instrument. It also tells the story of his relationship with one piano tuner who was able to turn CD314 into the piano of Gould's dreams. Even if you are not familiar with Gould and piano terminology, you will find this book completely absorbing.

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