I got an Amazon package today and it contained three Philip Glass CD’s that I didn’t have. Etudes 1-10, The Orphee Suite for Piano, and Music in the Shape of a Square. All three were ripped to MP3 within an hour of me opening the box. (and no, I never share this stuff on Kaaza. No one would want it and I rip at 320k so the files are enormous anyway)
My love of Philip Glass’s music is something I don’t really share with anyone else I know. Its not popular music (although he was the musical guest on SNL once in the 80s). Some of my friends might tolerate listening to it, but I’m sure get no real joy out of it if I’m listening to it in my car.
I first heard music from Philip Glass about 8 years ago. I had heard the name before, but I didn’t know anything about him or his music. He is popular enough to get spoofed on South Park and the Simpsons, but not popular enough for people to know why he’s spoofed. I had purchased a classical music magazine at Barnes & Nobel that had an attached mix CD of recent classical releases. One of the tracks on the disc was “Le Domain de la Bete” from La Belle et le Bete (an alternate score he wrote for the 1947 Beauty and the Beast movie by Jean Cocteau). This was unlike anything else on the CD. This was unlike anything else I had ever heard. There was something very hypnotic about it.
I eventually decided to purchase one of his discs and going on nothing but the title and cover art, bought Glassworks. I was hooked.
Fast forward to today and I own pretty much every piece of music he has ever recorded, including pieces recorded by other artists. While part of my would like to evangalize his music to the rest of the world, a part of me likes the fact that I am a fanbase of one amongst people I know. Its like the indie rock snobs who only like bands that no one has heard of, but taken to the extreme. (I suppose I could go even further up the snob ladder by only talking about even more obscure modern composers….but even I have limits)
If you want to listen to Philip Glass, I strongly recommend working backwards. Get contemporary stuff then work back in time. Dont listen to anything recorded pre 1980 without having listened to more modern stuff first. His early stuff makes much more sense once you’ve heard is more recent stuff. His best stuff is what he has written for solo paino and for stage performance (film, opera, ballet). None of his symphonies have really grabbed me.