Glen Gould and His Love for Orlando Gibbons: A Tribute Through Music

Glen Gould, the unforgettable Canadian pianist, is famously known for his unique interpretations of Johann Sebastian Bach’s works. However, it turns out that Orlando Gibbons, a Renaissance-era English composer, was his favorite. Gould often expressed his profound admiration for Gibbons in various interviews, describing his music as “ever so joyful.”

Getting to Know Orlando Gibbons

Born in 1583, Orlando Gibbons stands out as one of the most influential composers in England during his time. He is celebrated for his works that include madrigals, church anthems, and keyboard music. Gibbons had a unique ability to create complex and expressive harmonies and beautiful melodies that still resonate with us today.

Glen Gould: A Unique Interpretation

Glen Gould, born in 1932 in Toronto, Canada, became world-renowned for his unconventional approach to classical music. Gould often sat on a very low piano stool, allowing him incredible control over the keyboard. His love for Orlando Gibbons wasn’t just technical but emotional, finding joy and peace in Gibbons’ music.

Gibbons’ Influence on Gould

One of Gibbons’ pieces that Gould particularly adored was “The Silver Swan.” Gould marveled at how Gibbons combined melody and harmony, creating music that, to Gould, had a “perfect structural clarity.” Gould’s love for Gibbons is also evident in how he played Bach’s works, emphasizing clarity in polyphony and structure similar to that found in Gibbons’ music.

A Deep Love

Gould believed that Gibbons’ music had a transcendental quality, capable of elevating the listener to a higher state of consciousness. This view reflects not just Gould’s love for classical music in general but also for the essence of music as the purest form of artistic expression.


Glen Gould and Orlando Gibbons may have been separated by centuries, but Gould’s love for Gibbons’ music shows that the beauty and power of music are timeless. Gould admired Gibbons not just as a composer but also adopted many of his musical principles in his own interpretations. This love is a testament to music’s power to connect eras, cultures, and the human soul.


  1. What made Glen Gould so fascinated with Orlando Gibbons? Glen Gould was captivated by the structural clarity, complex harmonies, and the beauty of melodies in Gibbons’ music.
  2. How did Orlando Gibbons influence Glen Gould’s music playing? Gibbons’ influence is seen in Gould’s emphasis on clarity in polyphony and structure in his interpretations, especially in Bach’s works.
  3. Why is Orlando Gibbons’ music still relevant today? Gibbons’ music offers a window to the past, reminding us of the universality of human emotions and music’s ability to touch the soul.

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