Monday, 6 February 2012

75 repetitive years

Happy birthday to one of my very favourite composers, Philip Glass. I love his strict, gruelling minimalism and his more expansive post-minimalism. I heard him play at Lichfield Cathedral a few years back - he was so enthusiastic that he played for an hour longer than scheduled and then came out to chat to everyone.

I first heard the minimalists with Philip Gale, a friend from school who was light years ahead of the rest of us. The rigour, the mathematical clarity and the wonder paradoxically produced from anti-romantic music just astonished me (this is why I'm an atheist too: a seashore or a galaxy is beautiful and inspiring because physics can do anything). I know people - mostly women, for some reason - who hate minimalism. The repetition really sets their teeth on edge, whereas I can get lost in it. Perhaps it's my autism…

Some of my favourites:



Music for Voices: postmodern polyphony:





Glass's work is both cerebral - pushing the definition of music as far as it will go - an emotional, somewhat paradoxically. But he's also a deeply humane man: his operas have tackled terrorism, urban alienation, environmental collapse and our determination to separate ourselves from nature. He's one of the good guys:


The contradictions inherent in presenting a Gandhi opera at one of the world’s most richly endowed performing-arts institutions, even as protests against income inequality erupted downtown, inspired a notable demonstration on the last night of the run. A group allied with Occupy Wall Street gathered at the edge of Lincoln Center Plaza, berating the police, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the right-wing billionaire David H. Koch, a Lincoln Center donor. When “Satyagraha” ended and operagoers left the Met, some defied a police barricade and joined the protest. Glass did as well, and he addressed the crowd, making use of the “human microphone” of call and response. All he did was to utter the final lines of his opera: “When righteousness withers away and evil rules the land, we come into being, age after age, and take visible shape, and move, a man among men, for the protection of good, thrusting back evil and setting virtue on her seat again.” He said those words twice more, mingled for a little while, got into a cab, and went home. 

1 comment:

Emma said...

Heard he has also defied the Ninth Symphony Curse.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2012/feb/05/pass-notes-ninth-symphony