Few classical recordings have aroused as much fascination as Glenn Gould's 1981 take on Bach's "Goldberg" Variations.
Gould, whose first major-label recording was a classic 1955 account of the "Goldbergs," rerecorded them more than 25 years later. He then died, at 50, just after the release - leaving the two Bach statements as bookends to his career.
Now the score he used while making the 1981 recording has resurfaced, offering clues about the creative process of one of the most original pianists of the 20th century. The heavily marked-up score shows the nearly obsessive attention to detail Gould was famous for, especially after he stopped giving live performances in order to focus entirely on making recordings.
"I would call this the equivalent of a shooting script of a movie," said the critic Tim Page, a professor of music and journalism at the University of Southern California and the editor of "The Glenn Gould Reader." "He keeps track of which takes he likes, and how long they are."
Gould's jottings, mostly in black felt-tip pen, are not always legible. They mostly appear to be notes he made to himself as he assembled takes of the recording. He calls for a "wee shade less" in one section, regularly marks the timings of various takes, and seems to refer to a film he was shooting at the time of himself playing the "Goldbergs." There are few obvious interpretive notes, but he does circle the rests in one variation, as if for emphasis.