What’s behind Philip Glass’s longevity and success?

Posted on: February 22, 2018

“Let’s start with a sweeping but fairly sturdy proposition: No composer has left a more pervasive or distinctive stylistic imprint on Western classical music in the last half a century than Philip Glass,” writes Joshua Kosman in Friday’s (2/16) San Francisco Chronicle. “Glass’ music is everywhere—in concert halls, in opera houses, on film and television soundtracks…. In … a 2007 film documentary … Glass … describes his gift as ‘the ability to write music so radical that I could be mistaken for an idiot.’ Those misapprehensions have largely been swept aside over time, leaving us with a clearer view of what Glass has accomplished. And the key to that achievement, I think, is his extraordinary fecundity…. Glass’ enormous roster of works is predicated on the rejection of one of the central tenets of Romanticism, namely the idea that each new work of art has to create an entirely new conceptual world…. Glass’ creative output is … a long series of variations on a few basic themes … an esthetic framework with a long and venerable history… It’s what allowed Bach to write 200 cantatas…. It’s the difference between Haydn’s 104 symphonies and Beethoven’s nine.”

Posted February 22, 2018