The Hysteric Return

The time is 25 years after the 1954 Goldbergs. GG, having taken a pill is as calm as can be while facing a bevy of music critics (funny fictional characters played by himself and Margaret Pacsu.)

The characters here are:

The Hysteric Return...

M.H.: You have become as one of your own characters in the Solitude Trilogy.

S.N.T-T.: Ha ha. Oh I say that is a charming conceit, dear lady.

M.H.: Is it possible that you will change your outlook and return to public concert life.

G.G.: No madame, there is no possibility of that. That would seem a very retrogressive step for me. I can't even conceive going back to that way of life actually.

M.H.: So it is not possible like other artists who withdraw for a time from the public and that you make then a historic [pronounced hysteric with Marta's thick Hungarian accent] return.

G.G: That of course I have already done.

M.H: You have done so?

S.N.T-T.: Of course, fortunately...

T.S.: Yeah, I covered it myself to tell the truth.

M.H.: Where was this?

G.G.: It was actually in a rather unusual location madame, but uhh... Margaret, don't we have a CBC tape of that performance in the booth.

M.P.: Yes. Of course we do. I gave it to Duncan just before we went on the air.

G.G.: Well, perhaps if we have time we could play a few minutes of it for madame.

M.P.: Surely. Duncan, would you wind back about seven or eight minutes from the end perhaps.

D.H-G.: From the end of the Hysteric Return do you mean, lass?

M.P.: That's right, Duncan.

D.H-G.: Very well.

[long disruptive sound of a tape being rewound]

G.G.: Ahh, Madame Hortavanyi, I must tell you that the broadcast quality is not up to the usual high standards of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. [tape rewind sounds continue]

K.K.: It was really an extraordinary achievement to manage such a project considering the circumstances....

T.S.: Yeah right. I believe in the use of, what's its called, satellite technology, myself. To tell the truth.

S.N.T-T.: Yes and I am at the purely indifferent standpoint to all location and production matters myself in some respects. The playing itself of course is what matters most.

[tape rewind sounds ends]

D.H-G.: I believe that we are ready Margaret. Here it comes.

Sound of piano. Sound of Orchestra. Finale. Wild applause and cheering.

B.R.: That was Carl Maria von Weber, Konzertstuck for piano and orchestra in which our soloist Glenn Gould supported by the incomparable Iqklavic Philharmonic under the direction of its conductor for life Jon Haderzund von Strumfph. With that performance we come to the end of an event already unique in the annals of Arctic marine musicology. This evening, our distinguished audience, directors from the board of Geyser Petroleum our host for this historic broadcast. Its been a veritable feast for eye and ear. We watched as the midnight sun performed its annual mid-summer flirtation with the Beaufort Sea dipping eagerly towards the seductive white caps on the horizon yet declining in the early morning hours to come to their enticing grasp. We listened as Mr. Gould, performed a program we recalled the strongest preference for Romantic repertoire of his legendary concert days. We heard him as soloist in Tchaichoksky's first, Rachmaninov's second, and Chopin's third piano concertos. The later, of course, was a world premier and attracted to these forbidding climes such musical luminaries as Professor Karlkeinz Klopweisser, Sir Nigel Twitt-Thornwaite, and that most revered and renouned of Arctic music critics Dr. Herbert von Hochmeister of the "Great Slave Smelt."

[Continued wild applause, calls for an encore]

Well, I see that Mr. Gould has returned once again to the drilling platform of Geyser Petroleum exploratory rig XB-67 to acknowledge the applause of his fellow stockholders. I might mention at this time that this broadcast, as well as the miraculous ensemble heard throughout this night of virtuoso music making was a triump of close circuit television and audio technology. The drilling platform XB-67 was only able to accommodate Mr. Gould, his fellow stockholders, and approximately one dozen pianos, one for each movement, which were required to offset the tuning problems created by the climatic vissisitudes of the Canadian Arctic. This proof of the Iqklavic Philharmonic, on the other hand, were seated approximately two miles down-wind on the deck of the nuclear submarine Inextinquishable. Our CBC mobile control unit was set up in the coning tower of this flag ship of the Canadian fleet from which vantage point we were able to feed both Mr. Gould and Meistro Van Sloomphh via specially developed inner ear trans-comm mics attached to their floatation collars which also served to reduce the frost bite.

D.H-G.: Could anybody tell me if we have a correspondent on the rig or only in the dinghy is it? Or perhaps we will not be requiring his services. I do believe the concert is at an end.

B.R.: Well, it looks like there is going to be an encore! Mr. Gould is adjusting his inflatable scarf and putting on a second pair of fingerless mittens. And it appears that....

D.H-G.: Was it very cold down there?..

B.R.: ... Yes, I believe it will have to be a solo. The incomparable Iqklavic Philharmonic has just disenbarked from the deck of the Inextinquishable in a fleet of kayaks.

D.H-G.: You better tell them to stand by...

B.R.: Perhaps Theodore Slutz, the roving correspondent of our American network affiliate Antennae Anonymous has an update on that.

D.H-G.: Cue the dinghy..

B.R.: Can you hear me Theodore?

T.S.: Yeah, you're coming in quite good, tell truth, its just that at the moment I'm in a dinghy right below the rig, ya know and the word from down here is that its going to be a transcription by Mose Ravel, well like the transcription ain't by Ravel its by Mr. Gould there. But the work apparently is by Ravel. Only I can't get any hard dope on what piece it is, ya know. So, ummm, over and out like.

B.R.: And thank you Theodore Slutz for that valuable update. We will undoubtably know what it is in a moment. I can see on my closed circuit set that Mr. Gould is kneeling, yes kneeling, before the last tuned piano on the drilling platform.

D.H-G.: I very much doubt if he will be able to make use of the pedal.

B.R.: His celebrated folding chair was demolished during the octave glissandi in the Weber Konzertstuck which coincided with a strong north-easterly gust.

D.H-G.: Perhaps you better add a wee touch of reverb.

[Sound of piano starting]

B.R.: He's beginning to play. Yes it is Ravel. As our correspondent suggested it is Ravel. I believe its his Daphis and Chloe. No. No. Its "La Valse." Undoubtedly its our distinquished soloist's own transcription of the French master's celebrated symphonic study. Once again a work typical of Mr. Gould's predeliction for Romantic and Impressionistic repertoire.

[Sound of piano over background of excited agitated voices]

But it appears that something is happening as I am sure you can hear in the background.

D.H-G.: Could we get the lad in the dinghy back on the air again?

B.R.: The distinquished board of directors of Geyser Petroleum are hastily evacuating the XB-67

D.H-G.: It capsized did it?

B.R.: Even as our soloist, totally absorbed in his performance, continues unaware of their departure.

D.H-G.: Is there anybody else available?

[Sound of something falling into the water]

B.R.: In my own opinion Mr. Gould's transcription, even though it may leave something to be desired, hardly warrants so precipitous a response from this audience.

[Sounds of water splashing]

D.H-G.: I dare say we cannot be too particular. Tell him to stand by.

B.R.: But I understand that another correspondent from our American affiliate Cassie Mackerel has an update. Can you read me Cassie?

C.M.: I'm copping you loud and clear good buddy and I'm here on the presidential launch of the chairman of the board of Geyser Petroleum. And suh, I understand that a major find has just been confirmed at the Stepout Well XB-68 three miles down the delta. Would you care to comment on that, suh?

Chairman: Well its amazing what we're discussing. Its a find of such proportion as may relieve all Americans of dependency on oil from the Persian gulf in the future.

C.M.: Well I do thank you for that startling revelation, suh. I won't detain you any further. I know how anxious to get to the site.

Chairman: I'm not anxious to get to the site, Cassie. I'm anxious to get to a telephone. And close off my short position.

C.M.: Thank you again. And its over to you, Byron Rossiter.

[sound of motor launch zooming off]

B.R.: And thank you Cassie Mackerel for that major news break. It does seem that Mr. Gould is at last aware that he no longer has an audience. He has increased the tempo dramatically, and yes, he has made a major cut in the work. I didn't hear it happen, but that indicates to me that dispite his own anxiety to place his own brokerage order, his modulatory patterns remain a model of harmonic clarity and his impeccable artistry has indeed carried the day.

[sound of an alarm horn blowing]

D.H-G.: All personnel off the deck immediately. The ship is about to submerge.

B.R.: However, I have just been notified that as Mr. Gould no longer has an audience on the rig and since this recital may no longer be classified as a public event under the provisions of the Public Events statute of the Broadcasting Act, our transmission must be terminated forthwith. So, on behalf of our hosts, Geyser Petroleum, our producer Duncan Haig-Guiness, and all our roving correspondents and technicians, this is Byron Rossiter aboard the flagship Inextinquishable signing off.

[great piano finale]

[sound of seal yelping]

G.G.: Thank you.

[sound of seal yelping]

Thus far "The Hysteric Return". The whole field of "Arctic marine musicology" and Glenn Gould may be larger than normally appreciated. Along with "The Idea of North" Gould also wrote a humourous review of a music festival at Tuktoyuktuk called "Music at Tuk" in the early sixties.

One interesting allusion in the fantasy is to the Carl Maria von Weber, Konzertstuck in F minor for piano and orchestra. Gould played piano for this concert with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and conductor Sir Ernest MacMillan very early in his career This concert was broadcast by CBC on March 6, 1951.

Some notes on the Glen Gould alter ego characters: Gould published three articles for High Fidelity/Musical America in 1965 under the pseudonym Dr. Herbert von Hochmeister. Sir Nigel Twitt-Thornwaite "the dean of British conductors" made appearances of CBC from around from the early seventies into 1980. Karlkeinz Klopweisser, as eminent German musicologist and composer of the desert Afrika Korps "Ein Panzersymphonie", seems to resemble Herbert von Karajan with his embarrassing early Nazi associations. But who were Theodore Slutz and Duncan Haig-Guiness modeled after?

A request. If anybody has specific information about Vladimir Horowitz's 1962? "Historic Return" - in particular stage anouncements or narrations from the host of the evening - I am quite anxious to hear about them. Ideally somebody could type in the "Historic Return" proceedings, and they could be presented as a counterpoint to the "Hysteric Return". Its a real album and there must be copies of it around.

Return to Glenn Gould: A Perspective homepage

[Last updated June 13, 1996]