Wachtel On The Arts - Philip Glass


Eleanor Wachtel, host of Writer's and Company,  speaks with the American composer Philip Glass. Perhaps the most prominent composer of his generation, his works helped reinvent the sound of music for Western audiences from the late 1960s on. He's coming to Canada in June with a revival of his first opera, Einstein On the Beach, part of the celebrations for Glass' 75th birthday.

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wachtel-philip-glass.jpgWhen Philip Glass emerged on the New York music scene in the late 1960s, his music didn't sound like anything people had heard before. It was a hypnotic sound, created with an ensemble of electronic and classical instruments. Its rhythms and repetitions placed it outside any obvious genre. As Glass himself recently put it, he had the ability to write music so radical that he could be mistaken for an idiot.

Over time, audiences and critics began to see Philip Glass as one of the most important musical minds of the modern era. Probably the work that clinched it was his first opera, Einstein On the Beach. Performed in 1976, it grew out of a collaboration between Philip Glass and the avant-garde theatre director, Robert Wilson. New York Times critic, John Rockwell, later said that "Einstein On the Beach was like nothing [he] had ever encountered ... Like Einstein himself, it transcended time. It was an experience to cherish for a lifetime."

Since then, Glass has written dozens of concertos, operas, solo instrumental works, and film scores, plus ten symphonies and countless pieces for his own ensemble of musicians. 

Now 75 years old, Philip Glass is still on the road, touring with a revival of Einstein On the Beach. It's coming to Canada next month, as part of Toronto's Luminato Festival.
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