Seeking Solitude: Glenn Gould and the Goldberg Variations


NORDIK Institute and the Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains (CAPT) are pleased to announce a launch and book signing for Seeking Solitude: Glenn Gould and the Goldberg Variations by Dale Innes on Saturday, January 30 from 2:00 to 4:00 pm at the Art Gallery of Algoma.  This is a great opportunity to meet the author and hear some excerpts from the book.  This will be accompanied by some visual images of Gould in Northern Ontario and some of his audio recordings of Bach.  Light refreshments made from local foods will be served.  All are welcome and admission is free.

For years, Innes has had a passion for the work of the legendary and eccentric Canadian pianist, and in particular with his interpretations of Bach’s “Goldberg Variations”. “Glenn Gould was a complex man, never afraid of venturing into uncharted territory, both artistically and geographically” says Innes,   a Sault Ste. Marie musicologist, pianist, piano teacher, and now author.  “In his total disregard for the musical establishment and his originality of thought and musical interpretation, he was able to bring the music of Bach to vast new audiences through his recordings.”

Beginning with Gould’s early piano studies with his mother, who as a teenager lived and studied music in Sault Ste. Marie, and with the famous Alberto Guerrero at the Toronto (Royal) Conservatory of Music, Innes takes the reader through Gould’s international concert career to his decision to stop concertizing in order to focus on recording and writing. She also examines the influence that Northern Ontario had on his desire for solitude and for artistic inspiration. “During the 1960s and 1970s, his regular trips from Toronto up to the Wawa region provided him with the silence, space, serenity and solitude that he needed to be able to fulfil his musical vision” states Innes.

From a musicologist’s point of view, the book critically evaluates the authenticity of his interpretation of the Goldberg Variations and the dynamics behind audience receptivity of this music. This book is fascinating reading for both a lay audience and musicians alike.

Innes’s own career has led her steadily towards this project. She spent years as the music coordinator for Algoma University, as a piano teacher for the Algoma Conservatory of Music, and as a senior piano examiner with the Royal Conservatory of Music.  She is currently a member of the Ontario Registered Music Teachers Association (ORMTA) and a Research Associate of NORDIK, a research institute affiliated with Algoma University. In 1999, she coordinated the Glenn Gould Northern Tour with the Glenn Gould Foundation, a tour that brought Gould specialists and enthusiasts from around the world to Gould’s favorite spots around Wawa and its environs. Since 2008, Innes has been an organizer and presenter for Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains (CAPT)’s annual Group of Seven and Glenn Gould Train Event.  Linda Savory Gordon, spokesperson for CAPT and research associate at NORDK, states:  “Dale Innes is an exceptional resource for the annual Group of Seven and Glenn Gould Train Event which has drawn many Gould enthusiasts to the Sault and Algoma District to follow in his footsteps”. We are deeply appreciative of the many volunteer hours that this Gould expert has dedicated to the train event and the contribution of her knowledge to culture-based tourism in Algoma. ”

The book is now available at the Art Gallery of Algoma, 10 East Street, and Shabby Motley, 356 Queen St. East an Tom Walls School of Music, 505 Albert St E. It is also available from Penumbra Press (

For further information, please contact Dale Innes at 705.942-3016 or email [email protected]

Précis for Seeking Solitude

In this book, Innes explores Glenn Gould’s 1955 and 1981 recordings of Bach’s

Goldberg Variations in the context of their place in his life, in contemporary interpretation of the keyboard music of Bach, and in listener reception of these recordings. The core of this study provides an in-depth analysis of these two recordings, and a critical look at authenticity in Baroque performance.

Apart from the analysis in chapter four, which may appeal primarily to pianists, this book covers a broad spectrum of topics ranging from Gould’s early studies at the Toronto (Royal) Conservatory of Music, his concertizing experience, and his abandonment of the concert stage to focus on exclusive use of the recording media. Finally, Innes suggests possible aesthetic directions that Gould may have followed later in life, and outlines the special relationship that Gould developed with the Canadian north, specifically the area along the east coast of Lake Superior around Wawa Ontario.

About CAPT

The Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains (CAPT) is a not-for-profit organization comprised of individuals, businesses, First Nations, municipalities and other interests who recognize the significant economic, social, cultural, historical and environmental value of passenger rail servicing and interconnecting the people, businesses and communities of Northern Ontario’s Algoma District to each other, Ontario, Canada and the rest of the world. To accomplish this goal, CAPT has been working with local groups to organize events in the community that utilize the railway as a means of advertising and demonstrating its usefulness in the area.