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The interview was almost surreal. I was catapulted into a vision of Johnny Carson talk show style gabbing. We heard of 'Marty' (Martin Scorsese) and life in the film world. Eventually my eyes, which are weak, had trouble distinguishing Philip Glass from Marvin Hamlish. One thing though about Philip Glass is his very good sense of humour -- especially toward himself.

It is very easy for some to complain about his music. Some even refuse it the name (the same was said of Wagner, Tchaikovsky and many others). I find that sort of thing rather futile. I spoke with people who were deeply moved by the music and the standing ovation was spontaneous at the end of the concert.

Glass has stripped music down to a few bare parameters: repetition, simple harmony and little melody. He has done this in spite of a very thorough music education. Indeed, he also worked with the famed Nadia Boulanger and in a recent interview was very clear about his debt to her and his recognition of her contribution to his musical education. In spite of time spent at Julliard, when he went to Paris he became aware of the weakness of his technical equipment and worked to rectify this.

How does it happen then that Glass's music is so simple? One might suggest that he turned away from the complexity of the serialist school where it seemed that complexity equaled meaning.

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Copyright © 10 January 2003 Gordon Rumson, Calgary, Alberta, Canada


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