Contemporary Composer: Philip Glass

Gramophone magazine write:

During a recent interview about his recent opera, The Perfect American, Philip Glass said: ‘The whole idea of high and low art – nobody cares about that any more.’ Throughout a prolific career spanning five decades and more than 200 works, Glass has never really cared about such distinctions either. While some composers gained success by drawing on existing popular styles, Glass has created a musical style completely from scratch: a music that is entirely sui generis.

This unique outlook stems from Glass’s unusual childhood and upbringing. Born in Baltimore in 1937, Glass’s father owned a record store, and his young son would often spend time there. Glass junior soon noted that when a Beethoven 78 was exchanged for cash, even ‘high art’ had its value in the musical marketplace. Neglected records that gathered dust in his father’s shop were duly brought back home and Glass was fed on a diet of less commercial and more ‘difficult’ music – the late chamber works of Beethoven and Schubert or the music of modern composers such as Bartók and Hindemith. Such early experiences coloured Glass’s musical outlook. His music has rarely been ‘easy listening’ but can be appreciated on both commercial and artistic grounds

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