Everything but the girl

The musical benefits of not playing live

Glenn Gould considered audiences ‘a force of evil’. ‘Not in their individual segments but en masse, I detest audiences.’ He retired from public performance on 10 April 1964, at the age of 31, having given fewer than 200 public recitals. The Canadian classical pianist had longstanding philosophical objections to the ritual of performing live. He found applause automatic and insincere, and often asked spectators not to bother. He even wrote a (partly) tongue-in-cheek manifesto, the Gould Plan for the Abolition of Applause and Demonstrations of All Kinds, in which he called for clapping to be banned. Gould believed that the most useful and honest response to music came following a