Biopolitical Theory of Virtuosity in the Oeuvre of Glenn Gould

Bojana Rodić


Over the course of the 20th century, the concept of virtuosity went through a transformation and adapted to its increasingly globalized and technological culture. In that sense, virtuosic performance and its reception were subject to the workings of social, political, economic, and historical factors. The emergence of a media-networked society conditioned a change in the perception of the artist, who now creates and transmits her works using media. Contemplating the concept of virtuosity in the age of post-Fordism, originally posited in the bio-political theory of the Italian philosopher Paolo Virno, this text analyses the concepts of the general intellect, labor power, as well as public political performance. Its focus is on the creative oeuvre of Glenn Gould, whose work combined different layers of pianist and performance heritage, and offered a new type of interpretation. Harnessing the power of his idea, he succeeded in using his radical musical philosophy to re-examine virtuosic performance and create a hybrid art as a blend of music and technology. In Gould’s poetics, virtuosity was a skill that managed to transpose itself into the domain of media by building upon preceding discursivizations.


Article received: April 18, 2020; Article accepted: July 1, 2020; Published online: April 15, 2021; Original scholarly paper

How to cite this article: Rodić, Bojana. "Biopolitical Theory of Virtuosity in the Oeuvre of Glenn Gould." AM Journal of Art and Media Studies24 (2021): 123–134. DOI: 10.25038/am.v0i24.426


virtuosity; the general intellect; labor power; public space; Glenn Gould; recording.

Full Text:



Arendt, Hannah. Between Past and Future: Six Exercises in Political Thought. New York: The Viking Press, 1961.

Cvejić, Žarko. The Virtuoso as Subject: The Reception of Instrumental Virtuosity, c. 1815–c. 1850. Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2016.

Foucault, Michel. Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1975–76. London: Allen Lane – The Penguin Press, 2003.

Gerten, Gilen. Svestrani Glen Guld. Novi Sad: Izdavačka knjižarnica Zorana Stojanovića, 2005.

Gould Glenn. “Music and Technology”. In The Glenn Gould Reader, edited by Tim Page, 353–56. New York: Vintage Books, 1984.

Gould, Glenn. “The Prospect of Recording”. In The Glenn Gould Reader, edited by Tim Page, 338–52. New York: Vintage Books, 1984.

Gould, Glen. The Well Tempered Listener. Television program: CBC, 1970.

Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2010.

Marx, Karl. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1887.

Marx, Karl. Grundrisse: Introduction to the Critique of Political Economy. London: Penguin Books Ltd., 1973.

Payzant, Geoffrey. Glenn Gould Music and Mind. Toronto: Van Nostrand Reinhold Ltd, 1978.

Radisavljević, Sanela. “Glen Guld: Pijanizam u doba medija”. In Figure u pokretu: Savremena zapadna estetika, filozofija i teorija umetnosti. edited by Miško Šuvaković and Aleš Erjavec, 309–3018. Belgrade: Atoča, 2009.

Šuvaković, Miško. Estetika muzike: Modeli, metode i epistemologije o/u modernoj i savremenoj muzici i umetnostima. Belgrade: Orion Art, 2016.

Šuvaković, Miško. VIRTUOZITET izvođenja PORTRETA: Oblici samog Rada i oblici samog Života. Belgrade: Katalog izložbe a, Galerija Doma omladine, 2006.

Šuvaković, Miško. “KONTRADIKCIJE: Marcel Duchamp, Arthur Cravan, Glenn Gould, Joseph Beuys i Jérôme Bel: Bitne karakterizacije unutar ljudskog rada i umetnosti (jedno pažljivo čitanje eseja Giorgia Agambena Privation is Like a Face sa znatnim odstupanjima tokom interpretacije rada u umetnosti).” TkH 12, (2006/7): 62–70.

Virno, Paolo. A Grammar of the Multitude: For an Analysis of Contemporary Forms of Life. Los Angeles & New York: Semiotext(e), 2004.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2021 AM Journal of Art and Media Studies

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

The content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

AM Journal of Art and Media Studies ISSN 2217-9666 - printed, ISSN 2406-1654 - online, UDK 7.01:316.774


Publisher: Faculty of Media and Communications, Singidunum University, Belgrade, Serbia

Indexed in: ERIH PLUSEBSCODOAJ, and in The List of Scientific Journals Categorization of Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of Republic of Serbia (M51-2019). Beginning with No. 12 2017, AM is indexed, abstracted and covered in Clarivate Analytics service ESCI.