Door 22: Scott Ross

"When I hear nutcases like Glenn Gould who do: [plays staccato version of J.S. Bach's Partita no. 1, BWV 825, Allemande], I say he understood nothing of Bach's music! I've listened carefully to his records: he didn't understand. He was very brilliant; I respect him up to a certain point. For me, the fact that an artist doesn't appear in public poses a problem. But at least he was a guy with the courage not to do things like other people. All the same, he was wide off the mark, so wide off the mark that you'd need a 747 to bring him back. I'm hard on Glenn Gould. Well, he's dead now, so I won't attack a colleague."

Bold statements like this, said in 1989, sum up the American harpsichordist Scott Stonebreaker Scott. He was born in 1951 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and suffered from severe scoliosis during his childhood, which nearly made him a cripple. Already in his hometown he studied piano and organ, but after the death of his journalist father he moved to France with his mother  in 1964.

There he enrolled at the Conservatoire de Nice in 1964, where he had to take on another instrument and he chose the harpsichord, which then became is major instrument. At the age of 17 his mother committed suicide, leaving him alone in France, but he finished his studies at the Conservatoire de Paris. After entering the contest already in 1968, he won the gold medal at the prestigious Concours de Bruges in 1971, making him the first harpsichord player to do so as they only handed out second places before.

In 1973 he went to Canada to pursue a teaching career at Université Laval in Quebec. Besides teaching he recorded during this time the complete Pièces de Clavecin by Jean-Philippe Rameau and the complete keyboard works by François Couperin. Next to his profound style of playing and his impeccable technique, he stood out because he dressed like his students in jeans, biker jackets or lumberjack shirts.

From 1983 he took an indefinite sabbatical from Laval and moved back to his beloved France. He rented a small house in Assas, next to the castle, where he already taught and recorded quite a bit. In 1984 he took on the mammoth project of recording all 555 sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti. After 98 sessions and 8000 takes the recordings were finished in September 1985. His interest were brought, he was a passionate collector of orchids, and  was interested in volcanologymineralogy and mycology. He also did not only listened to classical music but was also a big fan of Brian Eno and Philip Glass. He died in 1989 of AIDS related complications caused by pneumonia at the age of 38 years.