Philip Glass: Classic or Dud? Search and Destroy

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Although I actually really like Einstein on the Beach.

filthy dylan, Sunday, 4 November 2007 05:57 (ten years ago) Permalink

me too, my favorite of his by far.

sleeve, Sunday, 4 November 2007 06:18 (ten years ago) Permalink

I personally love his "Concerto For Saxophone Quartet ". Nice and melodic and not remotely 'minimal' in my eyes. It came out in 1998 on Nonesuch.

sam500, Sunday, 4 November 2007 12:25 (ten years ago) Permalink

I’ve been thinking about Philip Glass a lot this week, perhaps influenced by that New Yorker piece that also goes into reexamining him. While he’s certainly been important in my understanding of music, very few recordings hold up.

Out of the 40 or so discs I own only Einstein on Beach, Etudes for Piano, Music in Twelve Parts, Solo Piano, Violin Concertos and Symphony No. 8 seem relevant.

Mr. Goodman, Sunday, 4 November 2007 15:20 (ten years ago) Permalink

I don't need much of Glass beyond Glassworks. "Closing" is to me his perfect track.

Spencer Chow, Sunday, 4 November 2007 17:44 (ten years ago) Permalink

Anything he can do Reich can do better.

yeah this really isn't the case. I've never heard Reich do anything like Einstein on the Beach, or the songs on North Star, or Music in 12 Parts for that matter. Glass was doing mostly melodic variation, where Reich was all about groove, about rhythmic phasing and (fairly conventionally jazzy) harmonic progression. I think there was some point in the late 70s where Glass must have realized that he could continue doing his melodic variation stuff but tone it down to a point that non-art gallery attendees and PBS subscribers could appreciate, and his rep (and compositional rigor) got kind of trashed -- it's a shame, because there are still a lot of people who don't remember how awesome and unparalleled his best stuff was

Dominique, Monday, 5 November 2007 04:43 (ten years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Sesame Street Glass

gigabytepicnic, Thursday, 6 December 2007 21:35 (ten years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

newish recording of Music in 12 Parts, this one was apparently a live recording, and sounds less lush, brighter than the 1996 Nonesuch release.

Dominique, Friday, 17 July 2009 20:56 (eight years ago) Permalink

wichita vortex sutra btw

❉❉❉❉❉❉❉❉Plaxico❉❉❉❉❉❉❉❉❉ (I know, right?), Friday, 17 July 2009 20:58 (eight years ago) Permalink

steffen schleiermacher 'early keyboard music' = really unique recording of the early pieces and well worth investigating

matinee, Friday, 17 July 2009 23:22 (eight years ago) Permalink

'Knee 3' is still so transcendent.

Turangalila, Friday, 17 July 2009 23:59 (eight years ago) Permalink

His work on the Candyman soundtrack is very nice and creepy/gorgeous.

Lostandfound, Saturday, 18 July 2009 01:21 (eight years ago) Permalink

I mostly went off Philip Glass a long time again, but over the past year I've occasionally heard bits of "Einstein on the Beach" on the radio (UNM's station) and it's almost been exciting me as much as it did when I was a young teenager. I think I need to get a copy of it again one of these days. (I made the mistake of buying a cassette copy years ago, which probably didn't help me to continute to love it.) So I think I need to rehabilitate him a little. "Einstein on the Beach," especially, remains pretty mind-blowing. I hesitate to say it, but I think it sounds like nothing else that came before. (I'm sure you can break it down and say this bit of melody sounds like this past composer or whatever, but overall it sounds like nothing else.

_Rockist__Scientist_, Saturday, 18 July 2009 18:25 (eight years ago) Permalink

I think part of it was not knowing that "Einstein on the Beach" was going to come on, being caught unawares by the radio.

("Unawares": is that right? It sounds so weird.)

_Rockist__Scientist_, Saturday, 18 July 2009 18:33 (eight years ago) Permalink

two months pass...

north star is really good!

69, Tuesday, 6 October 2009 23:00 (eight years ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

special offer on today (as seen on lifehacker)

The Orange Mountain Music Philip Glass Sampler Vol.I by Philip Glass

Price: FREE

koogs, Wednesday, 28 October 2009 19:06 (eight years ago) Permalink

nine months pass...

An interesting note from the producer on the organ used to record Glass Organ Works (from the review section of the Discogs listing of the cd (

I produced this recording and need to correct one thing and also tell a bit about its creation.

The "Genre" that is listed here on Discogs whether selected by Discogs, BMG/RCA/Catalyst or any other entity that provided information about this CD, is wrong. It is labeled "electronic". It is completely the opposite. The music as played is based on 17th century mechanical technology. That was the point of using the organ that I will describe to the reader now.

I had thought that we would be using one of New York City's better organs; something that thundered and snarled. But once I had read the music and spoken to the organist Donald Joyce, I knew that just the opposite type of organ was required. There were only a few real "trackers" that is, fully mechanical organs, that could be found anywhere in New York State that also had the right accoustics surrounding it. I never expected to find our treasure in, of all places, a small town in Tennessee named Collegedale. It is located about 40 miles N/E of Chatanooga, TN, if that helps. Donald found our tracker in the Collegedale Church after getting a tip from a friend. Six months had passed before the discovery was made. It was the "Heiller Memorial Organ" made by Brombaugh. This instrument was hand built and required 48,000 man hours to complete both in the Brombaugh shop and the church itself. This tracker is a fully mechanical organ. It contains 4,861 pipes, 70 completely manual (mechanical) stops. The "stops" are 10 inch long pieces of 1 inch square wood with a handle attached that is located on the outside of the organ; one pulls or pushes them out or in to open or close a diffent set of selected pipes and ranks of pipes through which the air flows. The actual pitches are controlled from four (yes four) 56 note mechanical keyboards (also called manuals), and lastly there is a mechanical 30 pedal board for the lowest notes. Electricity is only used to power a blower that fills two wedge shaped bellows. So one can easily see this is about as far from an electronic instrument or sound as one can achieve from an organ.

During the recording in the Spring of 1993 we "set up" for two days prior to actually recording anything for posterity (I did keep all the practice hours on tape just in case, but they were never needed.) Getting all the requisite sounds from the organ meant that we all worked from 10PM to 6AM as the sun rose. While this was ultimately a bit exhausting, it paid off because we were far off in the woods, and no external noises interfered with our work. We used David Hewitt's large soundtruck with a full 32 track Neve mixing board. (His company, Remote Recordings is credited in many live TV events as well as CD recordings.)However, we used only 3 microphones throughout the entire process. The recording method was actually that of the early days of stereo when 3 tracks were all that could be lain down at any one time. Left, Middle, Right. We chose six newly refurbished Neumann M-50 microphones which gave us a very clear "sonic picture" of the organ, (no more than 3 were ever in use, the others were for backup purposes and were turned on at all times in case we had to suddenly "change out" a faulty main mic. We recorded from about 70 feet away from the organ at a height of approximately 30 feet.

Balances between the various registrations took a very long time to choose and to integrate into a whole and each change was compared to the previous one by having everyone listen back after we had recorded a few variations. This alone took a day and a half to coax out the sounds that we felt were best at each point in a given piece. We then recorded for three days. We rarely deviated from our previously chosen settings and thus those first two days were vital to having smooth sessions later on.

In post production we added nothing. There was very little editing needed. I will end this long saga by saying that this recording is not for every musical palate, that's certain. But speaking only for myself, I can now say because of the relatively recent resurrection of the 17th century tracker organ, we achieved true 21st century effects that are as engaging to the attentive listener as any other good music.


DC_Paul, Thursday, 26 August 2010 18:54 (seven years ago) Permalink

two months pass...

Does anybody know if he has an interest in mathematics? Obviously he is playing around with ratios between the left-hand and right-hand parts on his piano pieces and the various parts in his orchestral arrangements, but is this directly related to an interest in mathematics on his part? Sorry if this is a bit of a naive question...

jeevves, Tuesday, 23 November 2010 20:02 (seven years ago) Permalink

yes, i recall he studied math in college..and wikipedia confirms, studied mathematics at univ of chicago when he was admitted there at 15 years old

Dominique, Wednesday, 24 November 2010 22:19 (seven years ago) Permalink

Cool, thanks. That's fascinating to hear.

jeevves, Thursday, 25 November 2010 01:18 (seven years ago) Permalink

whoa that IS fascinating. huh.

BIG MUFFIN (gbx), Thursday, 25 November 2010 01:45 (seven years ago) Permalink

JANUARY 2012 (Preview dates to be announced)
Einstein on the Beach
Presented by: University Musical Society of the University of Michigan
Venue: The Power Center

MARCH 16, 2012 (Preview)
MARCH 17-18, 2012 (World Premiere)
Einstein on the Beach
Presented by: Opéra et Orchestre National de Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon
Venue: Opera Berlioz Le Corum

MAY 2012 (Performance dates to be announced)
Einstein on the Beach
Presented by: The Barbican
Venue: The Barbican Theatre

JUNE 2012 (Performance dates to be announced)
Einstein on the Beach
Presented by: Luminato, Toronto Festival of Arts and Creativity
Venue: Sony Center for the Performing Arts

SEPTEMBER 2012 (Performance dates to be announced)
Einstein on the Beach
Presented by: Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM)
Venue: Opera House

OCTOBER 2012 (Performance dates to be announced)
Einstein on the Beach
Presented by: Cal Performances University of California
Venue: Zellerbach Hall

JANUARY 2013 (Performance dates to be announced)
Einstein on the Beach
Presented by: De Nederlandse Opera/The Amsterdam Music Theatre
Venue: Het Muziektheater

Milton Parker, Tuesday, 7 December 2010 22:07 (seven years ago) Permalink


Dominique, Tuesday, 7 December 2010 22:27 (seven years ago) Permalink

January 2013, check.

willem, Tuesday, 7 December 2010 22:35 (seven years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

The dates of the 'Einstein' revival tour are now confirmed (same link as above). I am so there, never thought I'd see this one in my lifetime. Been scouring Youtube for live footage of the original production but there doesn't seem to be any, which in a way is good. It's like the whole thing exists in some kind of dreamworld.

ban this sick stunt (anagram), Monday, 9 January 2012 14:53 (six years ago) Permalink

bought tickets to Zellerbach

ha ha: doors open 5:30 show starts at 6

Milton Parker, Monday, 9 January 2012 23:02 (six years ago) Permalink

bought a ticket to the Zellerbach Saturday performance, will be flying up from LA for this one

DWARF ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA (jamescobo), Tuesday, 17 January 2012 20:19 (five years ago) Permalink

I am heading to Ann Arbor for the "preview" shows this weekend. Stoked.

Stormy Davis, Tuesday, 17 January 2012 20:24 (five years ago) Permalink

three months pass...

Any London PG fans with £100+ to spare, I can recommend the Einstein On The Beach production currently at the Barbican. This was a real gateway record for me as a teenager, Floyd->Tangerine Dream->Philip Glass->all sorts of weirdo shit, great to finally see it with the visuals at last.

A++++++ would deal with again (Matt #2), Sunday, 6 May 2012 23:05 (five years ago) Permalink

oh man, did I never post after attending the Ann Arbor performance...

just ... wow. Just, wow. I really honestly haven't stopped thinking about it ever since. It is so much fun. It is so beautiful. One of the greatest experiences of my entire life. If you can, go, go, GO!!!!

Stormy Davis, Monday, 7 May 2012 00:20 (five years ago) Permalink

shit i might need to road trip to Brooklyn or Berk to experience again, if they aren't sold out

Stormy Davis, Monday, 7 May 2012 00:22 (five years ago) Permalink

here's PG afterward

Stormy Davis, Monday, 7 May 2012 04:44 (five years ago) Permalink

it was honestly life-changing. hasn't left me, four months on

Stormy Davis, Monday, 7 May 2012 04:45 (five years ago) Permalink

oh that sounds great, love Einstein so much.

hey Stormy I have yr Dead LP! email - sleeve at kittymail d0t c0m

sleeve, Monday, 7 May 2012 04:48 (five years ago) Permalink

hey sleeve -- sorry for delay, i'm on it !

Stormy Davis, Monday, 7 May 2012 04:55 (five years ago) Permalink

no problem man, and that concert ... jeez, so jealous! I saw a live version of "1000 Airplanes" in the 80's that was pretty good, but Einstein is one of the all time greats.

sleeve, Monday, 7 May 2012 04:57 (five years ago) Permalink

the Ann Arbor performances were billed as "dry run" or whatever, but from my space it was flawless

Stormy Davis, Monday, 7 May 2012 05:14 (five years ago) Permalink

sorry, 'preview' i guess is the industry term. Still ruled from start to finish -- flawless

Stormy Davis, Monday, 7 May 2012 05:18 (five years ago) Permalink

Saw this on Saturday, thought it was absolutely phenomenal - one of the best things I've ever seen. Might be worth seeing if the Barbican has returns rather than paying 100 quid for the few tickets left - we only paid 28 quid for our tickets, admittedly over a year ago.

Really changed how I think of certain parts of the opera, too - e.g. the prematurely air conditioned supermarket bit was amazing, but I've never noticed it that much on record.

toby, Monday, 7 May 2012 07:28 (five years ago) Permalink

I was there on Saturday as well, amazing experience. Thought it was a bit odd that PG and RW weren't there to take a bow at the end though, they are in London after all.

my father will guide me up the stairs to bed (anagram), Monday, 7 May 2012 08:12 (five years ago) Permalink

Was there yesterday too, seriously thinking about going again this Sunday.

Dick Move's Wardrobe (MaresNest), Monday, 7 May 2012 14:39 (five years ago) Permalink

for some reason i'm having trouble finding concrete dates/locations for this. did it already happen at Brooklyn Academy of Music? If not, when is it? Are there tickets? I really want to see this!

Mad God 40/40 (Z S), Monday, 7 May 2012 14:51 (five years ago) Permalink

Oh wait, finally found it:

Sep 14 & 15, 19—22, 2012 at 7pm
Sep 16 & 23, 2012 at 3pm

How difficult will it be to get tickets, for those in the know? Is this going to be some Kraftwerk shit where I hate myself all week again?

Mad God 40/40 (Z S), Monday, 7 May 2012 14:52 (five years ago) Permalink

Crazy to think that the Berkeley dates will be an effective West Coast premiere.

Dick Move's Wardrobe (MaresNest), Monday, 7 May 2012 15:09 (five years ago) Permalink

two months pass...

Any comments on the 10 CD "Glass Box"? Is it a good career overview or does it give long pieces short shrift?

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Thursday, 19 July 2012 00:25 (five years ago) Permalink

Fair overview but the long pieces are truncated; which is always a crime, but especially with minimal music imho.

Sebastian (Royal Mermaid Mover), Thursday, 19 July 2012 00:47 (five years ago) Permalink

I think I just got the last ticket to the Berkeley shows.

hot slag (lukas), Thursday, 19 July 2012 00:55 (five years ago) Permalink

super interesting thing upthread about glass organ works

I'm finally at a place where I can enjoy some glassworks & later stuff but glass is like...his early work is so convulsive & inventive & important & relentlessly focused and then suddenly he's not about phase & different conceptions of composition any more: he's a Composer for whom the singular focus of his earlier work yielded some melodic and strategic tools. still hard for me to deal with, the gulf between the Tomato records stuff and the almost pastoral, accessible stuff that came later. saw him twice back in the day, once at Dorothy Chandler and once at the Roxy, which was nuts - the early stuff he played at the Roxy, some selections from Einstein, had an effect comparable to a really loud metal band firing on all cylinders. Whereas the Glassworks nice.

I have less against "nice" than I used to so it's cool, but it's weird to me that this real seismic shift in his strategies seems to be an asked-and-answered thing.

tallarico dreams (underrated aerosmith bootlegs I have owned), Thursday, 19 July 2012 03:40 (five years ago) Permalink

I like the weird sort of New Brucknerism he's come to on things like Symphony No. 8. Yes, it's worlds away from Music in 12 or even Koyaanisqatsi but there's something about it. You can really bask in this shit.

Lewis Apparition (Jon Lewis), Thursday, 19 July 2012 15:15 (five years ago) Permalink

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