30 November 2008

Philip Glass

Philip Glass has been popping up in my life a lot lately. My dear friend Raf played me some of his wonderful music as an introduction to the purest form of electronica. Subsequently I began to listen to him on MySpace and the brilliant Deezer.com (for me, a newly-discovered site where you can listen to pretty much any music without having to download it - a great thing). He was mentioned in Roi Cydulkin's Dossier Journal blog-post about collaborator Arthur Russell, and I started to do some of my own Wiki-research.

What I have gleaned is that Glass was born on 31 January, 1937 in Baltimore, Maryland in the USA. He studied music at the Julliard School in New York. He is known, along with slightly older composers such as Leonard Bernstein, Kurt Weill and Richard Strauss, for bringing 'art music' to the public. Others describe his work as 'minimalist', though he prefers to call it 'music with repetitive structures'. Glass has written ensemble works, operas, symphonies, concertos, solo works, and film scores such as The Hours, The Illusionist and Notes On A Scandal. He has been nominated for three Academy Awards. Glass has had four wives and has four children. He lives between New York and Nova Scotia.


It seems to me that Glass' music encapsulates a certain inner-calm, a peace with the world which necessarily comes with an acknowledgment of its pain. It is about a recognition of how painful the world is, but simultaneously how wonderful. A recognition that the pain is a crucial part of the wonder, that without pain there is no wonder and thus no beauty. It seems it is this calm and consequent clarity which gives Glass' music such a sense of hope. A hope which comes also from the acknowledgment of our isolation in this world and that this is what, ultimately, unites us. This is the innate beauty of his work.

Discover Philip Glass!

On Saturday I was in the wonderful Stoke Newington International Airport and flicking through the Guardian Weekend magazine. Guess who was featured for the Starters Q&A? Of course. I read his answers eagerly and became even more enamored by Philip Glass. Below are some of his most profound responses.

Rosanna Greenstreet: What is your greatest fear?
Philip Glass: One that will definitely happen - that I won't finish everything I want to do.
RG: What was the best kiss of your life?
PG: There are different kinds. I remember a friend who embraced me a few days before he died. I discovered later what the embrace was about: he knew he was dying and I didn't.
RG: What has been your biggest disappointment?
PG: I don't know. I was lucky; I was able to study with the people I wanted to, be friends with the people I wanted to and in the end I've been able to make a living the way I wanted to.
RG: What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
PG: The thing that we all learn - that it goes by far too quickly.

Sometimes, I think, people come into your life for a reason. Or coincidence, maybe.


Blogger doctork said...

There's a film on here about him, too. It's called 'Glass', not surprisingly! So in a way he's in my life at the moment too! Weird.
Saw Australia tonight and really liked it.

03 December, 2008 12:34  
Blogger Giles Bunch said...

Glass did wrote the soundtrack to a very beutiful film called Koyaanisqatsi (a Hopi Indian word translated as meaning 'life out of balance') the film essentially depicts scenes of excessive consumption, excessive production, excessive work...etc. etc. and the whole thing is accompanied by this brilliant soundtrack by Glass. If you're interested in his music its definitely worth tracking it down.


10 December, 2008 01:51  

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