Homage to Glass’s “Music in 12 Parts,” by Nico Muhly

Posted on: January 26, 2017

In the first of five essays by different authors at National Public Radio marking Philip Glass’s 80 birthday on January 31, composer Nico Muhly writes on Tuesday (1/24), “I first heard [Glass’s] Music in 12 Parts when I was 18 years old…. I popped the first disc into my Discman (!) and started walking uptown and was shocked. I had expected rippling arpeggios, powerful machines, the unforgiving muscle of the dances from Einstein On the Beach. Like much of Philip’s music from the 1970s, the basic building block is a single ‘cell’ of music which expands and contracts rhythmically.… Part 1 of Music In 12 Parts, though, is … at a relaxed speed, the pulse a luxurious stroll.… It is scored for woodwinds, a solo female voice and multiple keyboards …  The insect-like timbre of the organs obscures and lightens the other instruments, a citrus-like river through the center of the sound…. The result is rapturous: mathematical, organic, familiar and achingly beautiful. I think about this piece all the time in my own work, particularly that involving the voice.” Philip Glass essays by Errol Morris, Paul Simon, Laurie Anderson, and David Lang will be posted at NPR this week.

Posted January 26, 2017