…the fabulous terror of not knowing before/one begins. Again. Kate Braid, “The Goldberg Variations (1981)” in A Well-Mannered Storm
– By J.S. Porter
Start something big
Like Bach’s Goldberg Variations*
Let years go by
Take lots of walks, play with dogs and children
make late-night phone calls, play
the piano and hum along, keep warm
wear gloves and scarves and a navy-blue wool coat
drink lots of coffee, take pills, make radio broadcasts
re-imagine the north, talk to strangers
rest on park benches, fall in love, lose the love
be heartbroken, continue to build the lifelong
construction of wonder – art
Go back to what you did at the beginning
Do it again
Do it a little slower, more deliberate, feel every note
Know in every pore and cell of your body this is the last, the final music
*Glenn Gould performed The Goldberg Variations in 1955 and again in 1981. He died on October 4, 1982.
The fall, arguably Canada’s most beautiful season belongs to Glenn Gould. He was born in September and died in October.
In my college-teaching years, I had a Latin-American student who came to Canada because of Glenn Gould. She didn’t know very much about Canada, but she played classical piano and she knew enough to know that Glenn Gould came from Canada. She wanted to live in the same country as her idol.
In my teaching years, I also taught alongside an American, the son of a marine, who came from North Carolina. He came to Canada to study medieval literature in a doctoral programme at the University of Toronto and because it was the home city of Glenn Gould. The Goldberg Variations, both early and late, were a necessary experience he treated himself to on a daily basis.
To honour my former student and my old colleague, I too find myself frequently listening to Gould. My preference is the 1981 version of the Variations.