7 Songs, 51 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

There are repetitions aplenty here, naturally. But by the time Glass sat down to record these piano pieces, he’d already begun to stray beyond the hardcore tenets of minimalism that he had helped develop in the '70s. His experience with operatic writing is clear throughout: The gorgeously lyrical “Wichita Sutra Vortex” (whose namesake is an Allen Ginsberg poem) became a staple of the contemporary repertoire shortly after this album was issued. There are more metrically precise readings of “Metamorphosis” available, but the composer’s own slightly ramshackle technique has a charm that will never be topped.

EDITORS’ NOTES

There are repetitions aplenty here, naturally. But by the time Glass sat down to record these piano pieces, he’d already begun to stray beyond the hardcore tenets of minimalism that he had helped develop in the '70s. His experience with operatic writing is clear throughout: The gorgeously lyrical “Wichita Sutra Vortex” (whose namesake is an Allen Ginsberg poem) became a staple of the contemporary repertoire shortly after this album was issued. There are more metrically precise readings of “Metamorphosis” available, but the composer’s own slightly ramshackle technique has a charm that will never be topped.

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About Philip Glass

No 20th-century composer has penetrated pop's consciousness like Philip Glass. Repetitive, hypnotic, and unapologetically beautiful, Glass’ style all but defines the popular concept of minimalism—a fraught term considering how rigorous the music actually is. (Glass once compared his work ethic to that of an athlete in training.) Songs like “The Grid,” from his soundtrack to 1982’s experimental documentary Koyaanisqatsi, sound at once primitive and futuristic, orderly and ecstatic, like an Indian raga generated by a giant, unblinking machine. A fixture of the New York art scene in the ’60s and ’70s who continued to work as a taxi driver and plumber into his forties, the Baltimore-born Glass also helped redraw the boundaries of what a so-called classical composer could be. He set the template for modern opera with his epic 1976 work Einstein on the Beach, and has scored experimental theater and Hollywood film, working with artists as varied as David Byrne, Allen Ginsberg, Martin Scorsese, and Ravi Shankar (with whom Glass studied in his twenties). Listen for his imprint in ’70s art-rock like David Bowie and Brian Eno's avant-leaning Berlin Trilogy, Donna Summer’s pulsing “I Feel Love,” house and techno music, and the lope of left-field hip-hop. It’s the sound of revelation through repetition and freedom through order.

HOMETOWN
Baltimore, MD
BORN
January 31, 1937

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