Philip Glass

Courtesy photo

NOTE: I have never felt the need to preface a music review until now, but there's a first time for everything. Valentina Lisitsa has recently been criticized for what some have described as 'hate speech' in her Twitter feed. A native of Kiev, Lisitsa is vocal in her opinions about the conflict in Ukraine. Lisitsa's Tweets are often blunt and inelegant.

In his new memoir, Words Without Music, Philip Glass tells the story of how he slugged a man in the jaw in Amsterdam. At a concert, a quarrelsome audience member climbed onto the stage and began banging on the composer's keyboard. That was in 1969, when Glass' repetitious, slowly evolving music fell on many ears like a needle stuck in the groove of a record.

It was 1964 when the young Philip Glass found himself in Paris. He was on a Fulbright scholarship to study with the revered pedagogue Nadia Boulanger. It was a career move carefully planned. Glass wanted to be a composer and he knew Boulanger's rigorous lessons in traditional Western harmony and counterpoint would sharpen his skills.

Composer Philip Glass is known for his haunting, minimalist (though he doesn’t like that term) sound in operas like “Einstein on the Beach” and scores for films such as “The Fog of War.” He’s now written a memoir, “Words Without Music,” which he discussed with Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti.

When composer Philip Glass started performing his own music, a lot of people didn't know what to make of it. Some people thought it sounded like the needle of a record was stuck in a groove, repeating over and over again. Some people thought it was simplistic. Some thought it was a joke. Glass says that in the '70s, audience members threw things at him while he was performing.

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