Philip Glass (1937-)

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01Apprenticeship in the Shape of a Square20120319

01Apprenticeship In The Shape Of A Square2012031920140113

Donald Macleod focuses on Philip Glass's early years.

One of the most influential - and controversial - composers of our time...in conversation with Donald Macleod, in a series of exclusive interviews recorded to mark the composer's 75th birthday in 2012.

Philip Glass's music has captured the popular imagination - and come to soundtrack our lives - in a way almost unthinkable for a contemporary composer. That characteristic, much-imitated Glass 'sound' - with its rocking minor chords, hypnotic arpeggios and glacially unfolding textures - has entered our psyche as the music to countless documentaries and movies...and made Glass perhaps the most commercially-successful composer in history. At the peak of his early fame in the mid 1980s, Philip Glass was so famous that he could lend his face to adverts for luxury watches and scotch whisky, and have his music listened to by nearly a billion people at the Olympics opening ceremony...

Even now, Glass enjoys name recognition and a mainstream reach that most living composers can only dream of. And it's not just the public that can't get enough of his work. He's has been hailed as an inspiration by countless rock, pop and electronic musicians - from David Bowie to Foday Musa Suso, Paul Simon to Aphex Twin - whilst securing his place in the classical canon as the most prolific and important composer of opera since Britten.

Yet Philip Glass also divides opinion like no other composer. A one-time "enfant terrible" of the New York arts scene of the 60s and 70s - whose simple, seemingly endless repetitions would stretch for hours and enrage critics - Glass has long since swapped hardline minimalism for a comfy, lushly Romantic sound...and alienated many of his former fans.

Astonishingly prolific (his catalogue features several hundred works, including nearly two dozen operas and film scores and nine symphonies) - Glass has more recently faced charges of 'selling out' - blandly recycling his familiar sound over and over in diluted form for a mainstream fanbase...

Disarmingly frank, witty and engaging, the composer has always wryly put aside criticism of his commercial success, and the familiar tropes of his music. "It's all nothing new", he once quipped, "I didn't invent the arpeggio".

All this week on Composer Of The Week, Donald Macleod talks to Philip Glass about his extraordinary life in music, with a playlist that encompasses his entire career: from early, uncompromising minimalist experiments, to his acclaimed 'portrait operas' Einstein On The Beach and Satygraha to the award-winning film scores to Koyaanisqatsi and Notes On A Scandal.

Donald will also be exclusively showcasing Glass's most recent works from the past decade, including Music Theatre Wales' brand-new recording of Glass's Kafka opera In The Penal Colony (2000), his Eighth Symphony (2005), the Double Concerto for violin and cello (2010), and the composer's brilliant, and critically-acclaimed Songs And Poems For Solo Cello (2007).

And listen out for several unusual surprises...including music composed for the kids' show Sesame Street (!), a pop song composed for Linda Ronstadt, and remixes and arrangements of Glass's work reflecting the massive influence the composer has had on the popular and electronic music worlds: from the NYU Steel Drum band to the Brazilian hip-hop DJ Luciano Supervielle...

In the first episode of the series, Philip Glass recounts the strong influence that Paris had on his early musical development - as well as his 'terrifying' lessons with Nadia Boulanger...

He also talks to Donald Macleod about how a fortuitous collaboration with Ravi Shankar was to shape his entire musical future - drawing from the processes and rhythms of Indian music to help forge the style which would later be termed 'minimalism'.

The week begins with one of his most famous works - the iconic 'Facades' (1982) for two saxophones and orchestra, which has served as the soundtrack of dozens of television and radio documentaries - before we hear two early experimental works: the Indian-inspired First String Quartet and the highly minimalist "Music In The Shape Of A Square" (1967), for two flutes.

Finally - a complete sea-change, as the composer introduces his lush, sweepingly Romantic Eighth Symphony (2008) - as Donald tries to pin down how his musical language can have evolved so radically.

One of the most influential - and controversial - composers of our time...exclusively in conversation with Donald Macleod.

This year, Philip Glass turned 75. His music has captured the popular imagination - and come to soundtrack our lives - in a way almost unthinkable for a contemporary composer.

That characteristic, much-imitated Glass 'sound' - with its rocking minor chords, hypnotic arpeggios and glacially unfolding textures - has entered our psyche as the music to countless documentaries and movies...and made Glass perhaps the most commercially-successful composer in history. At the peak of his early fame in the mid 1980s, Philip Glass was so famous that he could lend his face to adverts for luxury watches and scotch whisky, and have his music listened to by nearly a billion people at the Olympics opening ceremony...

Yet Philip Glass also divides opinion like no other composer. A one-time "enfant terrible" of the New York arts scene of the 60s and 70s - whose simple, seemingly endless repetitions would stretch for hours and enrage critics - Glass has long since swapped hardline minimalism for a comfy, lushly Romantic sound...and alienated many of his former fans.

Yet...should we care? Why shouldn't a composer - like any other professional - make a living, and do his job in the way he wants to? Disarmingly frank, witty and engaging, the composer has always wryly put aside criticism of his commercial success, and the familiar tropes of his music. "It's all nothing new", he once quipped, "I didn't invent the arpeggio".

The week begins with one of his most famous works - the iconic 'Facades' (1982) for two saxophones and orchestra, which has served as the soundtrack of dozens of television and radio documentaries - before we hear two early experimental works: the Indian-inspired First String Quartet and the highly minimalist "Music In The Shape Of A Square" (1967), for two flutes.

02Einstein on the Beach20120320

02Einstein On The Beach2012032020140114

Philip Glass joins Donald Macleod to discuss his 1976 opera Einstein on the Beach.

Donald Macleod continues the week of exclusive interviews with the composer Philip Glass, first broadcast to mark the composer's 75th birthday in 2012.

Philip Glass's music has captured the popular imagination - and come to soundtrack our lives - in a way almost unthinkable for a contemporary composer. Yet Glass also divides opinion like no other figure in contemporary music. A one-time "enfant terrible" of the New York arts scene of the 60s and 70s - whose simple, seemingly endless repetitions would stretch for hours and enrage critics - Glass has long since swapped hardline minimalism for a comfy, lushly Romantic sound...and alienated many of his former fans. Disarmingly frank, witty and engaging, Philip Glass has always wryly put aside criticism of his commercial success. All this week on Composer Of The Week, Donald Macleod talks to him about his extraordinary life in music, with a playlist that encompasses his entire career.

Glass's landmark work "Einstein On The Beach" (1976) dominates today's episode, as the composer describes how this acclaimed piece of music theatre - part conceptual art piece, part opera - came to be composed, in collaboration with the director Robert Wilson. Donald Macleod discusses the work's troubled genesis and surreal scenario - and how from its humble beginnings it's come to be regarded as one of the most significant operas of the 20th century.

We'll also hear a rare piece of film music from the late 1970s, released amongst pop albums on an art-rock record label (!), before the first instalment of the composer's recent "Concerto Project" - a sequence eight works for solo instrument and orchestra from the past decade.

Donald Macleod continues the week of exclusive interview with the composer Philip Glass in his 75th birthday year.

Glass's landmark work "Einstein On The Beach" (1976) dominates today's episode, as the composer describes how this acclaimed piece of music theatre - part conceptual art piece, part opera - came to be composed, in collaboration with the director Robert Wilson. Donald Macleod discusses the work's troubled genesis and surreal scenario - and how from its humble beginnings it's come to be regarded as one of the most significant operas of the 20th century.

We'll also hear a rare piece of film music from the late 1970s, released amongst pop albums on an art-rock record label (!), before the first instalment of the composer's recent "Concerto Project" - a sequence eight works for solo instrument and orchestra from the past decade.

03Koyaanisqatsi...and Sesame Street20120321

03Koyaanisqatsi...and Sesame Street2012032120140115

Donald Macleod explores Philip Glass's success in the 1980s.

Donald Macleod continues the week of exclusive interviews with the composer Philip Glass, first broadcast to mark the composer's 75th birthday in 2012.

Philip Glass's music has captured the popular imagination - and come to soundtrack our lives - in a way almost unthinkable for a contemporary composer. Yet Glass also divides opinion like no other figure in contemporary music. A one-time "enfant terrible" of the New York arts scene of the 60s and 70s - whose simple, seemingly endless repetitions would stretch for hours and enrage critics - Glass has long since swapped hardline minimalism for a comfy, lushly Romantic sound...and alienated many of his former fans. Disarmingly frank, witty and engaging, Philip Glass has always wryly put aside criticism of his commercial success. All this week on Composer Of The Week, Donald Macleod talks to him about his extraordinary life in music, with a playlist that encompasses his entire career.

By the mid-1980s, Philip Glass was among the most famous musicians in the world, having cemented the success of "Einstein On The Beach" with two more acclaimed 'portrait' operas - Satyagraha and Akhnaten - and the breakthrough success of his hypnotic score to Godfrey Reggio's art-film Koyaanisqatsi (1982). Yet unknown to most music fans, he'd also composed a work that delighted millions of children - with incidental music to an animated sequence on the TV show Sesame Street!

Donald Macleod discusses the fruits of Glass's early success with the composer himself - a period when he was famous enough to lend his face to adverts for luxury watches and scotch whisky - and introduces his first foray in orchestral writing since his student days: his Violin Concerto (1987), inspired by his father.

Donald Macleod continues the week of exclusive interview with the composer Philip Glass in his 75th birthday year.

By the mid-1980s, Philip Glass was among the most famous musicians in the world, having cemented the success of "Einstein On The Beach" with two more acclaimed 'portrait' operas - Satyagraha and Akhnaten - and the breakthrough success of his hypnotic score to Godfrey Reggio's art-film Koyaanisqatsi (1982).

Yet unknown to most music fans, he'd also composed a work that delighted millions of children - with incidental music to an animated sequence on the TV show Sesame Street!

0420120322

Donald Macleod explores Philip Glass's huge influence on pop and rock.

Donald Macleod continues the week of exclusive interview with the composer Philip Glass in his 75th birthday year.

Taking centre stage in today's episode: Philip Glass's remarkable "Songs and Poems for solo cello", written in 2007 for his partner, cellist Wendy Sutter, and hailed by critics as one of the most original - and remarkable - new works to come from the composer's pen: perhaps the finest work for solo cello since Britten's Cello Suites.

Before that, Donald Macleod talks to the composer about his strong interest - and influence on - contemporary pop and rock music, introducing a pop song written by the composer for Linda Ronstadt, and his first symphony "Low" (1992), directly inspired by the music of David Bowie and Brian Eno. We'll also hear from Glass's controversial opera "The Voyage", composed for the US quincentennial in 1992, and the most expensive commission in the Met's history, and a recent dance music remix of the composer's Piano Etude no.2 by the Brazilian hip-hop DJ Luciano Supervielle.

04Songs And Poems20120322

04Songs And Poems2012032220140116

Donald Macleod explores Philip Glass's huge influence on pop and rock.

Donald Macleod continues the week of exclusive interviews with the composer Philip Glass, first broadcast to mark the composer's 75th birthday in 2012.

Philip Glass's music has captured the popular imagination - and come to soundtrack our lives - in a way almost unthinkable for a contemporary composer. Yet Glass also divides opinion like no other figure in contemporary music. A one-time "enfant terrible" of the New York arts scene of the 60s and 70s - whose simple, seemingly endless repetitions would stretch for hours and enrage critics - Glass has long since swapped hardline minimalism for a comfy, lushly Romantic sound...and alienated many of his former fans. Disarmingly frank, witty and engaging, Philip Glass has always wryly put aside criticism of his commercial success. All this week on Composer Of The Week, Donald Macleod talks to him about his extraordinary life in music, with a playlist that encompasses his entire career.

Taking centre stage in today's episode: Philip Glass's remarkable "Songs and Poems for solo cello", written in 2007 for his then partner, cellist Wendy Sutter, and hailed by critics as one of the most original - and remarkable - new works to come from the composer's pen: perhaps the finest work for solo cello since Britten's Cello Suites.

Before that, Donald Macleod talks to the composer about his strong interest - and influence on - contemporary pop and rock music, introducing a pop song written by the composer for Linda Ronstadt, and his first symphony "Low" (1992), directly inspired by the music of David Bowie and Brian Eno. We'll also hear from Glass's controversial opera "The Voyage", composed for the US quincentennial in 1992, and the most expensive commission in the Met's history, and a recent dance music remix of the composer's Piano Etude no.2 by the Brazilian hip-hop DJ Luciano Supervielle.

Philip Glass & Suzanne Vega: Freezing (Songs From Liquid Days)

Linda Ronstadt (solo and backing vocals); Kronos Quartet

I. Subterraneans (Symphony no.1 "Low" (from the music of David Bowie and Brian Eno))

Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra; Dennis Russell Davies (conductor)

The Voyage: Act II, scene I

Karen Robertson (Isabella)

Bruckner Orchester Linz and Chorus of the Landestheater Linz; Dennis Russell Davies (conductor)

Songs and Poems no.1 for solo cello (excerpts)

Wendy Sutter (solo cello)

Etude no.2 (remixed Luciano Supervielle).

05From Enfant Terrible To Classicist20120323

05 LAST20120323

Donald Macleod ends the week of exclusive interview with the composer Philip Glass by bringing us right up to date, showcasing two works strongly familiar to British audiences, and two of Glass's most recent concert pieces.

First, the composer discusses his life scoring films, before we hear one of his most acclaimed scores - the darkly sinister music to the 2006 British film "Notes On A Scandal", starring Dame Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett. We round off the week's survey of Glass's operatic works with a brand-new recording of Glass's "From The Penal Colony" (2000), commissioned by Music Theatre Wales and based on Kafka's short story.

Finally - two world premiere recordings: Glass's most recent concerto - which doubles as a ballet (!) - and an instrumental work for two pianos. At the age of 75, is there a new 'classical' strain emerging in his music?

Donald Macleod focuses on Philip Glass's scores for films.

05 LASTFrom Enfant Terrible To Classicist2012032320140117

Donald Macleod focuses on Philip Glass's scores for films.

Donald Macleod presents the last of this weeks exclusive interviews with the composer Philip Glass, first broadcast to mark the composer's 75th birthday in 2012.

Philip Glass's music has captured the popular imagination - and come to soundtrack our lives - in a way almost unthinkable for a contemporary composer. Yet Glass also divides opinion like no other figure in contemporary music. A one-time "enfant terrible" of the New York arts scene of the 60s and 70s - whose simple, seemingly endless repetitions would stretch for hours and enrage critics - Glass has long since swapped hardline minimalism for a comfy, lushly Romantic sound...and alienated many of his former fans. Disarmingly frank, witty and engaging, Philip Glass has always wryly put aside criticism of his commercial success. All this week on Composer Of The Week, Donald Macleod talks to him about his extraordinary life in music, with a playlist that encompasses his entire career.

Donald Macleod ends this week of interviews with the composer Philip Glass by bringing us right up to date, showcasing two works strongly familiar to British audiences, and two of Glass's most recent concert pieces.

First, the composer discusses his life scoring films, before we hear one of his most acclaimed scores - the darkly sinister music to the 2006 British film "Notes On A Scandal", starring Dame Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett. We round off the week's survey of Glass's operatic works with a brand-new recording of Glass's "From The Penal Colony" (2000), based on Kafka's short story, and performed by Music Theatre Wales, the ensemble that gave the work's UK premiere in 2010.

Finally - two world premiere recordings: Glass's most recent concerto - which doubles as a ballet (!) - and an instrumental work for two pianos. At the age of 75, is there a new 'classical' strain emerging in his music?

Etude no.2 (arr for steel drums)

New York University Steel Drum Ensemble

First Day Of School; The Harts; Sheba and Steven; Someone In Your Garden; Someone Has Died; Betrayal (Notes On A Scandal)

Studio Orchestra

In The Penal Colony: Scenes 12, 13 and 14

Michael Bennett (the Visitor)

Omar Ebrahmin (the Officer)

Music Theatre Wales Ensemble; Michael Rafferty (conductor)

Duet No.1; Part 1 (Double Concerto for Violin and Cello no.1)

Tim Fain (violin); Wendy Sutter (cello)

The Hague Philharmonic; Jurjan Hempel (conductor)

IV. (Four Movements for Two Pianos)

Dennis Russell Davies and Mari Namekawa (pianos).