American Masters (2010 Season) – "Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould"

Air date: 12/27/2010

THIRTEEN’s American Masters reveals the man behind the myth in Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould airing December 27 on PBS

Film features never-before seen footage of Gould, photographs and excerpts from his private home recordings and diaries

Plus personal memories from Gould’s most intimate friends and lovers, some who have never spoken about him publicly before

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A profoundly enigmatic musical poet, there have been many documentaries about Glenn
Gould, but they were typically sidetracked by his eccentricities, focusing on the pills and gloves and scarves – missing the man, the magic and the message behind his music.

American Masters artfully pierces through the myths and misconceptions about this humming and hunched figure, whose fingers glided across the piano as no one’s before or since in Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould airing nationally, Monday, December 27 at 9pm on PBS (check local listings).
Currently in its 24th season, American Masters is a production of THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG – one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers.
“Glenn Gould is one of the most accomplished and celebrated classical pianists of the 20th century,” says Susan Lacy, series creator and executive producer of American Masters. “Twenty-seven years after his death, we’re still trying to understand the passion and motivation that gave rise to his genius.”
Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould unravels the layers of an iconic, but intensely private, musician who had a revolutionary understanding of the Baroque masters – and a sentimental love for Barbara Streisand and Petula Clark.
Gould followed his sensational 1955 New York City concert debut at the age of 22, by taking his talent to the Soviet Union and became an equally prodigious star there, in the midst of the Cold War. But, after a decade-long thriving international career, he defied the critics and shocked and disappointed his fans by leaving the concert circuit completely.
In 1964, he chose to focus exclusively on the recording arts, believing that this medium could create a transcendental relationship between artist and audience, overcoming the limitations of time and space, rising above the mundane and offering a communication with the eternal.
Gould proceeded to devote countless hours obsessing over every minute detail of his songs, interviews and broadcasts, sculpting sound and image and creating an intimate rapport with his audience. He used music to reach across language, culture and ideology, rediscovering Bach for a new generation – and all the while, intentionally or not, perpetuating the cloud of mystery that encircled him.
The study of a myth is actually also the study of the culture that created it. Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould is an engrossing consideration of the western cult of celebrity that surrounded this reclusive artist – the myth is humanized and we are given the opportunity to grasp the passion and inspiration that gave rise to his genius and incomparable power of expression. The contradictions between the Icon and the Iconoclast are subtly muted.
Told with the benefit of his remarkable recordings and through interviews with those who knew him best – his lover, his manager, his personal assistant, his collaborators – Gould is revealed and newly revered.
Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould is a production of White Pine Pictures in association with Bravo! a division of CTV Limited, The Biography Channel, TV Ontario, The Knowledge Network, Thirteen/WNET NEW York American Masters, ZDF Arte, SVT Swedish Television, AB, NPS Television, The Netherlands, with the participation of the Rogers Cable Network Fund, the Canadian Television Fund, and with the co-operation of The Estate of Glenn Gould. Susan Lacy is the series creator and executive producer of American Masters.
To take American Masters beyond the television broadcast and further explore the themes, stories and personalities of masters past and present, the companion Web site ( offers interviews, essays, photographs, outtakes and other resources. American Masters is made possible by the support of the National Endowment for the Arts and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional funding for American Masters is provided by Rosalind P. Walter, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Jack Rudin, Rolf and Elizabeth Rosenthal, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, and public television viewers.


New York public media company WNET.ORG is a pioneering provider of television and web content. The parent of THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and Creative News Group, WNET.ORG brings such acclaimed broadcast series and websites as Need To Know, Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, Charlie Rose, Secrets of the Dead, Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, Visions, Consuelo Mack WealthTrack, Miffy and Friends, Angelina Ballerina: The Next Steps and Cyberchase to national and international audiences. Through its wide range of channels and platforms, WNET.ORG serves the entire New York City metro area with unique local productions, broadcasts and innovative educational and cultural projects. In all that it does, WNET.ORG pursues a single, overarching goal – to create media experiences of lasting significance for New York, America, and the world. For more information, visit

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Caption: Cornelia Foss and Glenn Gould on the cruise ship “The R.M.S. Segwun”. Lake Muskoka, Ontario, June, 1968

Caption: Frame from previously unseen short film Virtues of Hesitation starring Gould. Nassau, Bahamas, 1956

Credit: Jock Carroll

Credit: Personal photo of Christopher Foss (son of Cornelia Foss)

Caption: Gould, the artist as a young man photographed by his close friend John P.L. Roberts. Toronto

Credit: John Roberts

Caption: Glenn Gould at his debut recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations. Columbia Records, New York City, 1955

Credit: Courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment

Caption: A twenty-three year old Gould photographed by Jock Carroll. Nassau Bahamas, 1956

Credit: Jock Carroll

Caption: Glenn Gould. Toronto, 1961

Credit: Courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment