Words Without Music

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012015042720150428 (R4)

The long-awaited memoir by the world-renowned composer of symphonies, operas and film scores.

'If you go to New York City to study music, you'll end up like your uncle Henry,' Glass's mother warned her incautious and curious nineteen-year-old son. It was the early summer of 1956, and Ida Glass was concerned that her precocious Philip, already a graduate of the University of Chicago, would end up an itinerant musician, playing in vaudeville houses and dance halls all over the country, just like his cigar-smoking, bantamweight uncle. One could hardly blame Mrs. Glass for worrying that her teenage son would end up as a musical vagabond after initially failing to get into Juilliard. Yet, the transformation of a young man from budding musical prodigy to world-renowned composer is the story of this memoir.

From his childhood in post-World War II Baltimore to his student days in Chicago, at Juilliard, and his time in Paris, where he studied under the formidable Nadia Boulanger, Glass movingly recalls his early mentors while reconstructing the places that helped shape his artistic consciousness. Then, to the gritty streets of New York in the 1970s, where the composer worked as a cabbie, leading the life of a Parisian bohemian artist transported to late-twentieth-century America.

Yet even after Glass's talent was first widely recognized with the sensational premiere of Einstein on the Beach in 1976, even after he stopped renewing his hack license and gained international recognition for his operatic works, the son of a Baltimore record store owner never abandoned his earliest universal ideals, all of the highest artistic order.

Reader: Kerry Shale

Writer: Philip Glass

Abridger: Laurence Wareing

Producer: Kirsteen Cameron

Music details:

Track: "Opening"

CD: Glassworks

Label: CBS

Track: "Bebop"

CD: Charlie Parker, The Original Bird: The Best Of Charlie Parker 1944-1949

Label: Savoy.

Philip Glass recalls his Baltimore childhood and being accepted to Chicago University.