The Idea of North: Sibelius, Gould, and Symbolic Landscapes

Laura Gray

The Conrad Grebel Review 28, no. 1 (Winter 2010)

Many people will recognize the main title of this lecture, “The Idea of North,” from a radio program of the same name. It was created by pianist Glenn Gould and was first broadcast as a Canadian centennial project in December 1967 on CBC Radio’s “Ideas” program. It was the first in a series of three one-hour programs that Gould called the “Solitude Trilogy.” Subsequent instalments of the trilogy were “The Latecomers” in 1969 (about the sense of solitude experienced by recent immigrants to Canada) and, in 1977, “The Quiet in the Land.” There, of course, is the inevitable Mennonite connection! “The Quiet in the Land” is about the effects of the intrusion of modern society on the solitude of the Mennonite community in Red River, Manitoba. It included the participation of Howard Dyck, the Mennonite Children’s Choir under the direction of Helen Litz, and the congregation of W-K [Waterloo-Kitchener] United Mennonite Church, a very local connection. Nevertheless, our discussion is not about “The Quiet in the Land,” nor is it specifically about Gould’s “The Idea of North”; rather, his radio program serves as a kind of linchpin for the discussion, bringing all the various elements together.

There are two names in the title of the lecture, those of Gould and of Jean Sibelius. Sibelius may be a little less familiar to us. Born in 1865, he was a Finnish composer who had lived to a ripe old age of almost ninety-two when he died in 1957. Although most celebrated for his seven completed symphonies, Sibelius is perhaps best known for an early composition from 1900, entitled Finlandia. Much of my own research has focused on his reception in England in the first half of the twentieth century. He was astronomically popular, especially in the 1930s in England and America. At the height of the so-called “Sibelius cult,” for example, a 1935 survey of over twelve thousand members of the broadcast audience of the New York Philharmonic revealed that Sibelius was the most popular composer of classical music in the United States – living or dead – beating out even Beethoven by ten votes!1 My research into the sociological and cultural roots of his popularity has yielded some fascinating recurring themes. One of the most pervasive has to do with Sibelius’s perceived role as embodying the spirit and landscape of Finland. This myth around Sibelius and the northern landscape, of course, had much more to do with cultural and social conditions in the United States and Britain at the time than it did with the man and his music.

Glenn Gould probably needs no introduction, especially to Canadians. He lived from 1932 until his early death at the age of fifty in 1982, and was one of Canada’s most internationally famous concert pianists – that is, until 1964 when he abandoned the concert stage for the recording studio. Perhaps the most popular and well-known of all classical recordings are Gould’s two complete cycles of Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” (from 1955 and 1982).

At first glance, these two individuals may seem only very tenuously connected. After all, Gould and Sibelius were separated by almost seventy years in age, they were from countries thousands of miles apart, and they never met. However, there are some obvious similarities. Both were musical artists from relatively northern countries and urban dwellers: Gould lived in Toronto, and Sibelius lived about one hour north of Helsinki in the town of Järvenpää, hardly a remote wilderness. Both traveled widely and were well-known internationally. In digging more deeply into Gould’s reception, however, I have found some quite astonishing similarities between their lives and legends. Above all, both artists were controversial figures, eliciting strong reactions and serving as a kind of lightning rod for some of the most passionate artistic debates of their day, and we remain fascinated with them today.

The third part of the title of this lecture, “symbolic landscapes,” although linked tenuously to physical places, refers rather to other kinds of “locations” that carry a lot of significance for us, personally and collectively. My own interest in this topic grew out of just such a landscape and began to develop almost exactly twenty years ago. Only a few weeks after embarking on my graduate program at Yale, my maternal grandmother, Rae Summers, died. In the sometimes treacherous conditions of my journey from New Haven, Connecticut via New York, Toronto, and Sault Ste. Marie, I made my way to the Northern Ontario hamlet of Hawk Junction for her funeral. The dovetailing of this sad event and being exiled from my country increased the sense of nostalgia I felt at the loss not only of my grandmother but of a way of life in the north that she represented. Some of my happiest childhood memories were of visiting her in her remote northern village and listening to her stories of pioneering life at Michipicoten Harbour on the northeast shore of Lake Superior, where she operated a general store from 1928 until the 1950s. Today I still enjoy my mother’s recollections of growing up at the Harbour. A few months ago, my husband and I visited there and, perhaps just because it is virtually a ghost town, this landscape has become symbolic to me. All the memories and stories connected to this place have contributed to my own sense of identity, and I am beginning to realize that even the memory of my grandmother has become a kind of symbolic landscape in my own myth of the north.

Another connection that served as inspiration for this lecture is that this very landscape was also tremendously significant to Glenn Gould. He was irresistibly drawn to the area of Michipicoten and Wawa. In a clip from a CBC television production, “Up in Northern Ontario with Glenn Gould,” he describes the area as “extraordinary,” a place he returned to again and again because it provided a therapeutic respite from “city living and city thinking” and a chance “to sort out some thoughts and get some writing done.”2 In fact, Gould drafted the script of “The Idea of North” in Wawa. He explains in the video his love for this landscape against the scenic backdrop of Lake Superior and the Magpie Falls, and at the end of the clip we see him walking along the dock at Michipicoten Harbour. Gould was not only connected to my mother’s childhood home; he was in the same grade as my father at Williamson Road Public School in Toronto. I asked Dad what he recalled of him during those years. He said Gould did not come to school very often but did play piano in the school assemblies.

Over time, all these connections and the nostalgia that I feel towards the north have come together in this lecture. I have been compelled through the process to examine my own myth of the north, and in some ways I believe that this interior journey may be even more significant than any physical journey north could be. This lecture thus focuses on the mythical “North” and how themes of this symbolic landscape have been imprinted on two cultural icons, Gould and Sibelius. Using Gould’s radio program “The Idea of North” as a point of departure, I will explore how Gould and Sibelius, like the north itself, have in effect become symbolic landscapes themselves, stamped with essential images of our own values and sense of identity.

The Myth of the North

I want to be clear about what I mean by “myth,” because there are many meanings of this word. I am not using it as the antithesis of “reality.” I interpret the word in the manner of musicologist Richard Taruskin, who explains that “myth is not falsehood but an explanatory hypothesis.”3 Carl Dahlhaus takes it further in his discussion of the Beethoven myth, asserting that a myth can be so powerful that it goes far beyond being a mere product of history to the point of taking part “in making that history.”4 I think that this is the case with the myths surrounding the north, Gould, and Sibelius.

The myth of the north is complex and sometimes self-contradictory: it is a composite, collective myth and firmly entrenched in 19th-century European nationalism and Anglo-Saxon ideology. Indeed, as Carl Berger contends in his article “The True North Strong and Free,” the myth of the north functioned from the beginning as a defining ingredient in forging a Canadian national spirit.5 Berger explains that, as part of the “Canada First” ideology, the new northern country would attract only superior northern races and at the same time, in a kind of Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest model, the harsh northern climate would forge a hardy, manly race.

With its long-hidden resources, its vulnerability to global warming and questions over national sovereignty, the north as a real, physical geographic landscape has lately attracted much interest. In fact, as the polar ice caps melt into passable seas, it is questionable whether the north as Canadians characterize it from a southern vantage point will continue to exist. Long taken for granted as an eternal, stark, hard, and even hostile place, the north is revealing itself as delicate, highly sensitive, and ephemeral. Because the myths and characterization of the north have played a major role in Canada’s national identity, I wonder what kind of impact the melting of our north will have on our sense of self. Will our identity as a nation melt with it? What do we mean by “north”? Many people have asked this question, including Margaret Atwood who, among other things, sees the north as “a place with shifting boundaries.”6 The north can also be a relative direction: North of what? we can ask. For those of us not familiar with the north, who have never set foot in it, the north is remote, isolated, relatively uninhabited, cold, even treacherous. We mix together such heterogeneous and distant landscapes as Algonquin Park in Ontario; the north shore of Lake Superior; Churchill, Manitoba; the Arctic; and much more into a vast indistinguishable monolith. It is anything but that in reality. As Sherrill Grace makes abundantly clear, the myth of the north originated in the south. She writes that “‘North’ is a fiction created by Southern Canadians who . . . have never gone farther north than Algonquin Park or the West Edmonton Mall.”7 Grace reveals how we exploit the resources of the north, including “its seemingly endless capacity to generate resonant (and marketable) images of a distinct Canadian identity – without having to go there or face its realities.”8 For those of us in the south, the “real” northern landscape remains out of view, distant and hidden. However, we do not have to leave our comfortable homes to travel to the “imaginary” northern landscape.

A number of deeply ingrained themes associated with the north impact Canadians’ understanding of a vast portion of our country and of ourselves. These include such entangled threads as racial stereotypes, gendering of the north, heroism and isolation, the north as an interior landscape, the north as a place of spiritual rejuvenation and clarity, a place of adventure, freedom and wilderness. These and other themes are all bound up with aspects of identity. Although these threads are intertwined and knotted, I will pull out three themes of the myth and discuss how they map onto the north, onto Gould and Sibelius. These three are the themes of isolation or solitude; “wilderness”; and inwardness or interiority.


Gould’s program “The Idea of North” grew out of his fascination with the north and with the experiences of those who go north, especially their experiences of solitude or isolation. In 1965 Gould travelled north himself as far as the train would take him, to Churchill, Manitoba, but for his purposes this was far enough. Two years later, “The Idea of North” aired on CBC Radio. It was a new genre he dubbed “contrapuntal radio,” which was made up of a rich polyphonic tapestry of five individual and independent speaking voices. Gould interviewed separately his five protagonists, each of whom had spent considerable time in the north. We hear Marianne Schroeder (a nurse), Frank Vallee (a sociologist and author), Robert Phillips (a government official and writer), and James Lotz (a geographer, anthropologist, and author). The fifth voice belongs to Wally Maclean, whom Gould met on the train to Churchill. Because of Maclean’s former profession as a surveyor, with its special connection to landscape, Gould chose him as a kind of narrator for the story and as the “pragmatic idealist” or “disillusioned enthusiast” he felt was needed in the program.9

The work is deliberately unnerving: the voices are all presented over background noises of the locomotive and random sounds of train travel, which serve musically as a kind of basso continuo and also make audible the landscape we are crossing on our imaginary journey. Gould openly eschewed any “cohesive point of view,” and artistically the work reflects this: just as in operatic ensembles, he points out, seldom can we follow more than one voice at a time nor are we expected to do so. It is the overall effect that Gould sought in his composition.10 The point of the work is quite clear: in his words, it provides

an opportunity to examine that condition of solitude which is neither exclusive to the north nor the prerogative of those who go north but which does perhaps appear, with all its ramifications, a bit more clearly to those who have made, if only in their imagination, the journey north.11

Solitude or isolation, then, clearly is the theme of the composition, as Gould explains.

Solitude was an important theme in Gould’s life. Although gregarious in some ways (especially on the phone), Gould was also reclusive. He even cultivated this image of himself as “a kind of hermit” or “isolated artist,”12 and once said that “for every hour you spend in the company of other human beings you need X number of hours alone. . . . [I]solation is the indispensable component of human happiness.”13 Gould spent several years in the international spotlight only to withdraw from that world rather suddenly in 1964. There are different hypotheses for why he abdicated the concert stage at the age of thirty-two. Although wildly successful, he never enjoyed concertizing: to him it was “an inspiration of the devil.”14 We also know that Gould was disturbed by the imprecise nature of concert performances, where there was no “take two.” In the recording studio, however, he could choose from multiple takes and have much more control over the final product.

Whatever the reasons for his withdrawal from concert life, Gould had an uneasy relationship with the public. So did Sibelius. Despite flawed descriptions of the Finn as impervious to public opinion, his journals and letters to his wife indicate he was so keenly sensitive to criticism that this virtual paranoia caused him on countless occasions to cancel international appearances at the eleventh hour. Sibelius’s last official public appearance was in 1935 for his seventieth birthday celebrations, which were over the top, not just in Finland but in Germany, England, and the United States. Despite enjoying a prodigious social life in Helsinki and other urban centers earlier in his life, Sibelius retreated into a shroud of mystery, isolating himself for his last three decades in what is known as “the silence of Järvenpää.” The burden of the “Sibelius cult” seemed to take its toll as the world waited in vain for the composer’s elusive Eighth Symphony.

Both Gould and Sibelius withdrew in one way or another from public life, and the effect of their retreat was remarkable. They may have been out of sight, hidden from view, but they were hardly out of mind: their images continued to grow and take on a life of their own as imaginary, symbolic, and mysterious icons, much like the myth of the north itself, the physical manifestation of which remains likewise isolated, remote, and hidden from view for most people.

Our perception of northern isolation reveals a contradiction that tells far more about our relationship to our own immediate surroundings than about our relationship to the north. Time and again, the theme of disenchantment with urban life surfaces in discussions of the north. Although we see the north as remote, isolated, and a place of solitude, it is the city where such isolation is truly found. Gould understood this: the north functioned for him “as a foil for other ideas and values that seemed . . . depressingly urban oriented and spiritually limited thereby.”15 This theme imbues “The Idea of North,” where Gould emphasizes through his protagonists that, even if they sought solitude, they did not find it in the north. It was impossible, practically. Wally Maclean spells it out in the epilogue: in the absence of war, the moral equivalent is going north, as fellow humans come together in solidarity against a common foe – the north. In the epilogue, Maclean also speaks of what is lost in modern society: “a cleanness, a sureness, a definiteness about coming up [against] Mother Nature that is lacking in our rootless pavements, in our rough big city anonymity.”

We should note that in the epilogue the sound of the train is gone, replaced by the only “conventional” music in the entire score of “The Idea of North.” For the last nine minutes of the program, Gould quotes in its entirety the final movement of Sibelius’s Fifth Symphony in a performance by Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic, one of Gould’s top three “desert island” discs. Why did he do this? Taking a cue from Sibelius biographer David Burnett-James, Paul Hjartarson proposes that Gould chose the Fifth Symphony because it underscores Maclean’s role as a kind of hero who, having confronted “the dark satanic forces” of the north, has gained the necessary knowledge and wisdom of the north.16 When Gould wrote about his favorite recordings a few years later, however, he cited Sibelius’s music as “the ideal backdrop for the transcendent regularity of isolation.”17 Whether the finale of the Fifth universally expresses isolation or “old heroic legends” is open to debate. Either way, the symphony articulates and underscores the irony of northern isolation and Maclean’s comments about going north as the moral equivalent of war. Here too is an instance of further irony: in including the Fifth Symphony in “The Idea of North,” Gould acts as a mythologizer, perpetuating the legendary connection between Sibelius and the north.

Gould also recorded some of Sibelius’s piano music – a rare choice – and his comments about it shed a little more light on what most attracted him to the Finn’s music. He praised the composer for “that spare, bleak, motivically stingy counterpoint that nobody south of the Baltic ever seems to write.”18 Such terms as “spare” and “bleak” are regularly applied to Sibelius’s music and perhaps are the qualities that Gould thought particularly evocative of the north.

With this in mind, Gould might have been considerably gratified with a recent program for a concert at the Maryland School of Music entitled “Channeling Glenn Gould.” (If the organizers were able to channel him, perhaps he had input in the design of the publicity, since he was always so concerned with his self-image!) It is not the title but the photo near the bottom of the program that I would most like to describe. A row of barren trees stands in the foreground against a snowy and windswept landscape.19 No other program in the series uses the same iconic image – it is reserved for Gould – indicating a potent and immediately understood connection between Gould’s image as an artist and a spare, bleak, and wintery northern landscape.20 Such an image is not unique. It communicates a widespread perception of Gould as a lonely isolated genius and, as Hjartarson has convincingly argued, Gould “is increasingly linked, via ‘The Idea of North’ and the ‘solitude trilogy,’ to the popular, southern conception of an Arctic landscape.”21


Such connections between Gould and a northern landscape relate to a powerful recurring theme, the idea of the north as “wilderness.” This theme returns repeatedly. Shelagh Grant qualifies it further, noting that a “northern wilderness” represents “a place beyond southern civilization, agricultural settlement, or urban life”22 and is seen as “resource-rich but remote, hostile, and godless.” 23

Like Gould’s reception, the literature on Sibelius’s music is riddled with northern wilderness imagery. In 1917, one of the foremost English critics, Ernest Newman, drew a direct connection between Sibelius’s music and the Finnish landscape, claiming that “this music of his is so purely the product of the land and water and air of Finland that unless we have imagination enough to visualise the Finnish landscape the music will mean nothing to us.”24 Since virtually no one writing about Sibelius had ever visited Finland, any such descriptions refer to an idealized, imaginary landscape. But it was people’s perception of that landscape – the symbolic aspects – that were most significant, rather than any attempt at accuracy. As Simon Schama points out in Landscape and Memory, “landscapes are culture before they are nature; constructs of the imagination projected onto wood and water and rock.”25 These landscapes were then projected onto Sibelius and, as we have seen, onto Gould.

What kind of landscape did Sibelius’s fans imagine when listening to his music? Here is one example from one of his closest British friends, the composer Granville Bantock, who described Sibelius as

a true son of the soil. In his music the primitive savagery of wild and untamed races seems to stand out with naked distinctness; and we see a scene of rocks, mountains, caves, forests, and lakes, rolling mists and boiling surf, by the sinister light of storm; we feel how the iron has entered into the soul in this hard land where Winter keeps his relentless grip for six or seven months in the year.26

Here and elsewhere in descriptions of the Finn and his music we find a landscape described in such terms as “sinister,” “hard,” “forbiddingly stark,” “relentless,” “grim,” and “bleak.” It was the kind of wilderness that J.M. Hunter identifies as “the realm of untamed Nature, traditionally feared as unpredictable, alien and full of hidden menace.”27 One particular wilderness theme that stands out in contemporary descriptions of Sibelius’s music was the perception of it as sounding “uncultivated and unpeopled.”28 Neville Cardus, music critic of The Manchester Guardian, wrote likewise in 1931 that “the world of a Sibelius symphony is curiously uninhabited” and “the universe of his symphonies is unpeopled.”29 This deeply ingrained image of an uninhabited and pristine wilderness stood out in high relief against the cultivated pastoral agrarian settlements and densely populated urban centers of the south, and it may have served as an antidote for the poisons of industrial society, as Schama proposes. Hunter sees it in another light, however, as a kind of “primal Eden,” a pristine, untouched landscape symbolizing “man’s origin and early life in a primal state of innocence and harmony with the natural order, followed by a fall from grace.”30

This mythic notion of an untouched and uncultivated wilderness can be found not only in descriptions of Sibelius’s music but in images of Gould and Sibelius themselves. Both artists were distanced from the “cultivated” European tradition as a way of highlighting their natural genius. Even though Gould performed music of the European canon, any influences were downplayed, emphasizing his originality. Sibelius’s fans also highlighted his originality by portraying the composer as uncultivated and untouched by European, especially German, influences. He was even sometimes described as primitive and uncouth. In stressing this aspect of wilderness, the literature on Sibelius and Gould links them to an image of a pure, natural, or unconscious genius. The recurring theme of inwardness or interiority, as we will see, only underscores this perception of genius.


In “The Idea of North,” as the train pushes further and further north, we discover that Gould’s work involves much more than the chronicling of a physical journey. It is a “voyage to the interior,” to borrow Atwood’s term, and what artist Lawren Harris called the “‘innerseeing’ of man’s response to a northern landscape.”31 This interiority or inwardness is an essential aspect of the myth of the north and a central message of “The Idea of North”: our encounter with the north ultimately results in an encounter with our inner selves. This kind of inward journey or interior landscape is stamped on the images of Gould and Sibelius as well as on those of the north. The humming retained in some of Gould’s recordings, for example, is a case in point. Although far too distracting for some listeners, Gould’s apologists hail it as a necessary byproduct of his craft or as even revealing another level of genius – as though what we hear externally is only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, and that the real music is going on inside Gould’s head. Photos of Gould often deliberately mythologize this inner world: his eyes closed, seemingly rapt in ecstasy, he is turned inward.

The same sense of genius-inspired “innerseeing” informs part of the Sibelius myth, and it has been immortalized in a 1949 photo by the celebrated Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh.32 Karsh admitted that Sibelius was quite resistant to having his picture taken at first. The result is an iconic image of the composer with his eyes closed, a heavily wrinkled brow, and his left hand across his breast. Sibelius’s secretary, Santeri Levas, commented on the incident and the photo, revealing that Sibelius’s eyes were closed simply because the lights were dazzling the old man. Nevertheless, the venerated image remains and, as Levas further commented, “the master seems to be listening to inner voices – voces intimae,” incidentally the name given to Sibelius’s String Quartet in D Minor.33

This emphasis on “inner voices” or inwardness in both Sibelius’s and Gould’s images, while mirroring aspects of the myth of the north, links been glorified “as a trait of enhanced interiority,” as music historian Scott Burnham has pointed out.34 After Richard Wagner’s famous monograph on Beethoven, the composer’s “turning inward” became a sign of genius in the nineteenth century, and this inwardness has persisted as a perceived quality of genius well into the twenty-first century.35 Take, for example, such current pronouncements as the title of a 2009 film on the Canadian cultural icon, “Genius Within: the Inner Life of Glenn Gould,” or the Canadian Museum of Civilization’s recent exhibit entitled “Glenn Gould: The Sounds of Genius.”


Sibelius monument in Helsinki.I would like to leave you with two iconic images that cement for me the myths of Sibelius, Gould, and the north. The first is a picture of part of the Sibelius monument in Helsinki by Eila Hiltunen (at left). The main portion of the monument is an abstract sculpture made up of many tubes. A small concession to traditionalists on the panel of judges was a representational sculpture of Sibelius’s head, which is molded into the hard rocky landscape so evocative in his reception.

Gould, too, is frozen in position and place in the Canadian landscape, in Ruth Abernethy's now familiar sculpture of him sitting on a bench outside Statue of Gould on a park bench in Toronto.the CBC building in Toronto (at right). These sculptures physically embed their subjects into the landscape but, as we have seen, both of these subjects have become more than just part of the landscape. They have in effect become symbolic cultural landscapes themselves, locations imprinted with themes of the north that reflect and inform our values, our sense of identity, and our need for iconic cultural images.

One feature I find particularly interesting about Gould’s sculpture is that it invites conversation. Thousands of people when visiting Toronto sit down with Gould, sometimes having a one-sided chat with the iconic figure. I think that the conversations should continue with both Sibelius and Gould – not just with their sculpted images but with what they have left behind. Even if their images are frozen in place, our perceptions of, and interactions with, their art can thaw out and remain pliable. Then the music that both Gould and Sibelius created can reach us freshly, and we may even experience the revelation that art, in and of itself, has in store for us. Likewise, our mythic relationship with the north can bear examination. We can take an honest voyage to the interior, where we examine our frozen impressions and, when we clear away the layers of myth and legend, like ice and snow, our relationship with the north may grow and our self-understanding may become clearer. These myths are rich, full, and fascinating; but we can examine their roots, understand a little better where they come from, and without losing anything, find that they can become even more meaningful and significant to us.


1 “Behind the Scenes: Jan Sibelius Wins Nation-Wide Poll Among Listeners – Minneapolis Symphony to Broadcast.” New York Times (1923-Current file), November 24, 1935, http:// (Accessed November 22, 2009). Sibelius had 1,888 votes, Beethoven 1,878, and Ravel was a distant third with 910.
2 “Up in Northern Ontario with Glenn Gould (excerpt).” The CBC Digital Archives Website. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. topics/320-1737/ (Accessed November 22, 2009). In the video clip Gould is playing a piano transcription of Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony, “The Pastoral,” a musical evocation of nature and the countryside. Like Gould, Beethoven sought solace and rest from urban life in the natural environment.
3 Richard Taruskin, “Nationalism.” In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, http:// (Accessed November 21, 2009).
4 Carl Dahlhaus, Nineteenth-Century Music, trans. J. Bradford Robinson (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), 75.
5 Carl Berger, “The True North Strong and Free,” in Nationalism in Canada, ed. Peter Russell (Toronto: McGraw-Hill, 1966), 3-26.
6 Margaret Atwood, Strange Things: The Malevolent North in Canadian Literature (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995), 8.
7 Sherrill Grace, “Introduction: Representing North (or, Greetings from Nelvana),” Essays on Canadian Writing 59 (1996): 2.
8 Ibid.
9 Glenn Gould, “‘The Idea of North’: An Introduction,” in The Glenn Gould Reader, ed. Tim Page (Toronto: Lester & Orpen Dennys, 1984), 392-93.
10 Ibid.
11 Ibid., 393-94.
12Glenn Gould: A Life in Pictures (Richmond Hill, ON: Firefly Books, 2007), 166.
13 Ibid., 6.
14 Martin Meyer, “Interview: Glenn Gould: ‘...the inner movement of the music...’” Glenn Gould 1 (Fall 1995): 19.
15 Gould, “‘The Idea of North’,” 391.
16 Paul Hjartarson, “Of Inward Journeys and Interior Landscapes: Glenn Gould, Lawren Harris, and ‘The Idea of North,’” Essays on Canadian Writing 59 (1996): 83.
17 Gould added that his “own notion of isolation involves, at the very least, a Helsinki-like latitude.” Gould, “A Desert Island Discography,” in The Glenn Gould Reader, 438.
18 Gould, “The Piano Music of Sibelius,” in The Glenn Gould Reader, 103.
19 The program can be found at MusicinMindGould.pdf (Accessed October 24, 2009)
20 Although t
his landscape is not identified, it is typical of much of southern Ontario in the winter and demonstrates that the idea of north is indeed relative. For an audience in Maryland, southern Ontario is considered north.
21 Hjartarson, “Of Inward Journeys and Interior Landscapes,” 84.
22 S.D. Grant, “Myths of the North in the Canadian Ethos,” Northern Review 1-4 (1988-89): 16.
23 Ibid., 19.
24 Ernest Newman, “Midland Institute School of Music: Orchestra Concert,” Birmingham [UK] Post, December 18, 1917.
25 Simon Schama, Landscape and Memory (New York: Vintage Books, 1996), 61.
26 Granville Bantock, “Sibelius: The Man and Artist,” The [London]Times, February 26, 1921, 8.
27 John Michael Hunter, Land Into Landscape (London: George Godwin, 1985), 4.
28 The Liverpool Philharmonic Society, Program Notes for first Liverpool performance of Tapiola, March 7, 1933, 537. I am grateful to the Liverpool Philharmonic Society for access to their archival program notes.
29 Neville Cardus, “Sibelius: Nationalist Composer of Finland,” Radio Times 33, no. 421 (October 23, 1931): 259, 296.
30 Hunter, Land Into Landscape, 4-5.
31 Sherrill Grace, “A Northern Modernism, 1920-1932: Canadian Painting and Literature,” Literary Criterion 19.3-4 (1984): 107.
32 The portrait can be found in Yousuf Karsh, Portraits of Greatness (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1959), 183.
33 Santeri Levas, Sibelius: A Personal Portrait, trans. Percy M. Young (London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1972), 110.
34 Joseph Kerman, et al. “Beethoven, Ludwig van.” In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, music/40026pg19 (Accessed November 21, 2009).
35 Ibid.

Photo Credits

Glenn Gould Gathering sculpture by Ruth Abernethy. Credit: Wojciech Dittwald
Sibelius sculpture by Eila Hiltunen. Credit: Laura Gray

Laura Gray is Associate Professor of Music at Conrad Grebel University College. Her main areas of research and publication include the music of Jean Sibelius, the 20th-century British symphony, and early 20th-century music criticism and aesthetics. She has presented scholarly papers nationally and internationally, and her work has appeared in such venues as The Sibelius Companion and Sibelius Forum.

The Benjamin Eby Lectureship

Benjamin Eby (1785-1853) typified, and possibly inaugurated, Mennonite culture in Upper Canada. He and his wife Mary arrived in Waterloo County from Pennsylvania in 1807. By 1812 he was ordained bishop, and in 1815 he was overseeing construction of the area’s first schoolhouse. Eby provided outstanding leadership in the church and in education throughout his life. The Benjamin Eby Lectureship, named in his honor and established at Conrad Grebel University College in the 1980s, offers faculty members an opportunity to share research and reflections with the broader College and University community.