Glass on science and the arts

Posted on: November 24, 2009

In Tuesday’s (11/24) Wall Street Journal, Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim writes, “It’s a good thing Philip Glass can tune out noise. Out on the walled patio of the composer’s East Village townhouse, the combined roar of trucks, buses and helicopters can make conversation a strain. Inside, brightly colored children’s toys—his youngest is 6—hint at other aural distractions. Still, it is here that Mr. Glass, now a youthful 72, created the bulk of his work, an oeuvre that includes symphonies, film scores, operas and chamber music and continues to grow. … Last week saw the U.S. premiere of Mr. Glass’s opera ‘Kepler,’ in a concert production at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Written for the Upper Austrian State Theatre and first performed in Linz in September, the opera is a portrait of that city’s most famous son, the astronomer whose analysis of the motion of the planets provided the foundation for Newton’s discovery of the law of gravity. … Mr. Glass recalls a time when music was subjected to the same test of progressivity as science—an attitude that shaped much of 20th-century music. ‘That was the position of [Pierre] Boulez and [Luigi] Nono, and it wasn’t a bad thing—the music was beautiful. But it wanted to be like science where the present would disprove the past and would determine the future. The younger composers have totally abandoned that idea.’ ”

Posted November 24, 2009