Music and Vision homepage Jenna Orkin: Writer Wannabe Seeks Brush With Death - From the heights of greatness (the Juilliard School; musicians Rosalyn Tureck and Nadia Boulanger) via way-ward paths to the depths of wickedness these reminiscences will entertain and enlighten.

 

FOOL'S GOLD

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An alternate meaning to the music of Philip Glass,
from GORDON RUMSON

 

I would like to suggest that Glass's music, which has become immensely successful and has played to large audiences in utter contradiction to the usual fate of modern classical music, is an example of indirect teaching.

In an era when music, as an intellectual art had reached a point of almost lunatic disdain for non-intellectual music forms, Glass created music that was not rock or folk, clearly a development of fundamental ideas and based on his own studies with one of the revered teachers of Classical music. Glass has created music which attracts many people and fully demonstrates utter intellectual vacuity.

Here is enchanting music, beautiful music, music that many find deeply moving built upon the the most insipid (or limited, if you prefer) of ideas: repetition and stasis. A more banal music would be hard to conceive, lest it be merely a single humming drone (such as the whine of the computer).

But here, while serious composers wracked their brains and scoured their souls to create expressive, powerful, deep music, is a composer who uses none of their methods and achieves those very ends.

Can the irony be lost upon the musicians and the people?

Here is a kind of fool's gold which has made the creator rich. Here is music that is devoid of any of the exterior trimmings of spirit that is full of spirit. Here is music that seems as if it could be written by a machine that moves the hearts of many.

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Copyright © 14 August 2001 Gordon Rumson, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

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