The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Composer Philip Glass, 78, writes a fascinating memoir of his training, struggle and acceptance as a “minimalist” musician. | April 19, 2015

By Jacob Stockinger

Not a lot of musicians write well. It’s probably because they prefer to let their music-making do their communicating.

But one notable exception is the “minimalist” composer Philip Glass (below), whose new volume of memoirs is being praised for its insights and for its engaging, articulate style. (A good sample of his speaking, composing and playing is in the YouTube  video at the bottom.)

Phlip Glass 2015

Recently, Glass did a 46-minute interview for Terry Gross and her “Fresh Air” program on NPR (National Public Radio.) He discussed his early days composing and performing as well his training with famed French teacher Nadia Boulanger.

Philip Glass book cover

The NPR story has the interview plus some highlights from the interview and also some excerpts from the book “Words Without Music.

The Ear thinks that Glass, now 78, emerges as a very thoughtful and perceptive man who is also droll and self-deprecating.

See what you think.

Here is a link to the NPR story:

And here is a highly positive review of the book that appeared in The New York Times:

What do you think of Philip Glass and his music? His memoirs?

The Ear wants to hear.

1 Comment »

  1. Hi, Jake: Once up a time the old Madison Civic Center regularly brought Philip Glass’ shows to town. If memory serves me (correct me if it doesn’t), this included such stagings as: “1000 Airplanes On The Roof,” “The Monsters of Grace,” “Koyaanisqatsi,” “Powaqqatsi” and “La Belle Et La Bete.” There was also a stunning solo piano concert that Glass gave in the intimate Isthmus Playhouse and a pre-concert lecture that revealed the composer to be as plainspoken as a Brooklyn cab driver.

    These were thrilling moments in Madison’s cultural life. The Overture Center may be a more splendid edifice than the old Civic Center, but in my opinion its bookings are drabber and less adventuresome. That’s a loss for Madison. Marc Eisen

    Comment by meisen — April 19, 2015 @ 9:07 pm

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