Saturday, May 5, 2012

Phillip Glass

My first introduction to "postmodernism" in contemporary music was when I picked up a cassette tape of "Mishima" a soundtrack for the Japanese movie by Glass. I've been hooked ever since.
It seems like almost no one in the music world likes the term minimalist - and probably for good cause as the compositional form has evolved, become more structured and more embracing. I tend to consider all contemporary composers that are using Minimalist constructions or have evolved further as Post Minimalism for lack of a better term. The following bio is from Phillip's own FB page.

 * * * * Philip Glass * * * * *

Philip Glass [ born January 31, 1937 ] is an American composer. His music is frequently described as minimalist, though he prefers to describe himself as a composer of ” music with repetitive structures “. He is considered one of the most influential composers of the 20th century, and is described by his biographer, Tim Page, as ” the first composer to win a wide, multi-generational audience in the opera house, the concert hall, the dance world, in film and in popular music — simultaneously “.
Glass is extremely prolific and counts many artists, writers, musicians and directors among his friends, such as Richard Serra, Chuck Close, Doris Lessing, the late Allen Ginsberg, Robert Wilson, Godfrey Reggio, Ravi Shankar, David Bowie, and the conductor Dennis Russell Davies, who all collaborated with him. He is Buddhist and a strong supporter of the Tibetan cause.
In 1987 he co-founded the Tibet House with Columbia University professor Robert Thurman and the actor Richard Gere. He has composed some remarkable scores for a number of films including the ” Qatsi ” trilogy by director Godfrey Reggio [ " Koyaanisqatsi " ~ " Powaqqasti " and " Naqoyqatsi" ] Paul Schrader’s Mishima:
A Life in Four Chapters, Martin Scorsese’s ” Kundun ” ~ Peter Weir’s ” The Truman Show ” and Stephen Daldry’s ” The Hours ” in addition to a number of operas [ " Einstein on the Beach " and " Satyagraha " ] and the quintessention of the minimalist tradition with ” Music in Twelve Parts “

The following is an excerpt from "Mishima, A Life in Four Chapters" 1987. The one that hooked me:
Glass is a prolific composer: he has written works for the musical group which he founded, the Philip Glass Ensemble (with which he still performs on keyboards), as well as operas, musical theatre works, ten symphonies, eleven concertos, solo works, chamber music including string quartets and instrumental sonatas, and film scores. Three of his film scores have been nominated for Academy Awards.

Now - forward a couple of decades to the Tirol Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (2000, premiered by Dennis Russell Davies as conductor and soloist). Part of the second movement is in this video. It's difficult to find a good clip of Philip's music that isn't too long (my opinion) for a blog. But this is definitely worth the time to listen. I would recommend that the listener look up his symphonic and operatic works. Amazing music. This recording was made, again by Davies, in 2008.

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