first book by Junichi Miyazawa

Junichi Miyazawa
Guren gurudo ron
(English title: Glenn Gould: A Perspective)
Tokyo: Shunjusha, 2005. 500p., 4200yen

synopsis in English

cover photo of Glenn Gould: A Perspective

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Guren gurudo ron (Glenn Gould: A Perspective) is an integrated consideration of Glenn Gould's diversity. The author Junichi Miyazawa discusses Gould's theories on media, performance, and Canadian identity. The purpose of this book is to probe Glenn Gould's thinking and its origins.

Guren gurudo ron is divided into three chapters.

Chapter One, "Media Theory: Who is the Listener?"
analyzes Gould's ideas about the media, chronologically. It follows his major statements and projects from the beginning of his career until the final years, to discover how his views about the media changed. In the 1960's he prophetically foresaw the increasing importance of the electronic media; in the 1970's he was an evangelist for his theory of the 60's; and in the 1980's, he drastically revised his ideas. This chapter includes close analyses of "Let's Ban Applause"(1962), "An Argument for Music in the Electronic Age"(1964), "The Dialogues on the Prospects of Recording"(radio, 1965), "Concert Dropout"(1968), "The Well-Tempered Listener"(1970), etc.

Junichi Miyazawa carries out these analyses by considering Gould's discourse about "the listener": Appreciative Listener, Well-Tempered Listener, New Kind of Listener, Creative Listener, etc. One would wait in vain to meet such listeners; they were simply the projections of a distinguished listener-performer / theorist of electronic media: Glenn Gould. The author shows that Gould's media theory was not monolithic, but was revised, developed, even torn down all through his life. Certain biographical events are particularly described in the process. One of the most vivid and curious scenes is the reconstruction of the whole story of the Stratford concert (July 8, 1962), at which Gould actually banned applause. A consideration on Gould's ideas on "process" and Muzak (background music) is of additional importance to clarify the discussion. Gould's relationship with Marshall McLuhan is frequently discussed, to understand Gould's ideas on the media. These two Torontonians shared many common ideas.

Chapter Two, "Performance Practice: Facts and Ideas on Bach's Goldberg Variations," discusses Gould's ideas about music, and his performance practice, through his attachment to Bach and the Goldberg Variations. The chapter starts with a biographical discussion of Gould's encounter with the masterpiece, referring particularly to the influences of Alberto Guerrero and Rosalyn Tureck. Next, the discussion focuses on the 1955 debut recording. Gould's "breathless" interpretation was made possible only through the post-production process of electronic technology, a fact confirmed through comparative analysis with the 1954 CBC broadcast recording, which depends on the sense of natural "breathing" and "fatigue" (particularly in the transition from one variation to the next). In this sense, Glenn Gould as we know him was "born" in 1955, by way of the active adaptation of recording technology. Gould, however, negated the performance when he re-recorded the music in 1981, introducing the "pulse" system to achieve a new integration. Junichi Miyazawa traces the development of Gould's idea of "pulse" in his earlier performances (e.g. the legendary 1961 live performance of Brahms' First Piano Concerto ), and in his love of dixieland-like rhythms. Miyazawa also examines Gould's old-fashioned view of Bach as an architect of music and a nonconformist, both traits being projections of Gould himself. Gould's re-recording of the Goldberg Variations was an extension of his Puritanism and inclination to monistic ideas.

Chapter Three, "Discussion on Identity: Why was Glenn Gould Canadian?" is an interdisciplinary exploration to understand the Canadian-ness of the pianist. Starting with a consideration on David Young's play Glenn (1992), Junichi Miyazawa finds the image of Glenn Gould as a "Canadian" hero, who was born and has chosen to remain in a country that has survived "two monsters": the United States, and the North. Incorporating concepts from many Canadian authors--- Margaret Atwood's "survival," Northrop Frye's "garrison mentality," Marshall McLuhan's "the country of DEW Line" and "anti-environment," Sherill E. Grace's "Canada-as-North," etc. ---Miyazawa probes Glenn Gould's words and life to clarify his cultural/geographical background, and to depict the nature of isolation (as opposed to solitude), nonconformity and detachment according to Gould. The Canadian North, an awe-inspiring, vast, vacant space, was in fact Gould's source of imagination. It was not only a geographical entity, but a mental one as well. Through a detailed plot analysis of Gould's contrapuntal radio documentary, "The Idea of North" (1967), Junichi Miyazawa reveals a subconscious correspondence between Gould's idea of North as a negative but productive background, and the ultimate image of the fugue process he was attached to as a "still, desert place" (Schweitzer). Miyazawa finally uncovers Gould's primitive idea of North in one of his earliest writings, one which makes no mention of Canadian geography at all, his "Address to a Graduation" (1964). In it Gould emphasizes "the danger of positive thinking", and encourages young people in search of their creativity to pay attention to the "vast background of immense possibility, of negation." This corresponds directly to Glenn Gould's "North."

The book also includes a map of "The Northern Zones of Canada" by the leading "North" geographer Louis-Edmond Hamelin, and a forgotten article by Glenn Gould "Words from a Special Friend"(1979).

Junichi Miyazawa's Guren gurudo ron is a unique achievement in the study of the ideas, life and work of Glenn Gould, incorporating the perspectives of philosophy, literary studies, media studies, musicology, geography and Canadian cultural studies. It is the long-awaited first scholarly book on Glenn Gould by one of Japan's leading specialists.

Glenn gurudo ron is the culmination of research on "Glenn Gould and his Cultural Background in Canada" made possible by a grant from the Canada-Japan Peace and Friendship Exchange Program 1999/2000 under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.

-(March 25, 2005)-]

Yoshida Hidekazu Award 2005 and Ph.D.

Junichi Miyazawa won the Yoshida Hidekazu Award (Yoshida Hidekazu Sho) for 2005 for his book Guren gurudo ron. This award, named after the leading critic in Japan, is a prestigious prize granted annually to the best published Japanese criticism on music and arts, for the year preceding the award. It is the fifteenth year awarded, and the first win for a book in the field of Canadian studies. The award ceremony was held at Mito Arts Founation, Mito City, in November 2005.
Later, Guren gurudo ron was examined as a doctoral dissertation at the University of Tokyo.  Junichi Miyazawa successfully defended it on December 26, 2006.  A Ph.D. was conferred on him on February 28, 2007.

Junichi Miyazawa wishes to thank Ron Davis for his help in the preparation of this synopsis.


(C) 1997-2005 Junichi Miyazawa

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