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The remarkable composer Philip Glass joins us. We’ll listen from “Einstein on the Beach” to his latest “Symphony No. 9.”

U.S. composer Philip Glass listens during a news conference in Mexico City, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2009. (AP)
U.S. composer Philip Glass listens during a news conference in Mexico City, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2009. (AP)

Composer Philip Glass drove a taxi until he was 41, and wrote music after hours that drove people wild.  Some with exasperation.  Some with pure ecstasy.  Hypnotic, churning, relentless music.  Einstein on the Beach.  Satyagraha.  The score for Koyaanisqatsi.  Symphonies.  Operas.

Work with David Bowie and Woody Allen and Allen Ginsberg.  Linda Ronstadt.  Twyla Tharp.  Now he’s 75 and celebrated all over.

This hour, On Point:  a conversation with composer Philip Glass.
-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Philip Glass, a classical music composer, his most recent composition – Symphony No. 9 – premiered in Linz, Austria in January.

From Tom's Reading List

The New Yorker "Philip Glass’s place in musical history is secure. His sprawling, churning, monumentally obsessive works of the nineteen-seventies—“Music with Changing Parts,” “Music in Twelve Parts,” “Einstein on the Beach,” “Satyagraha”—have fascinated several generations of listeners, demonstrating mesmeric properties that are as palpable as they are inexplicable."

NPR "Even on a frigid Saturday in January, the street outside Glass' East Village home crackles with traffic and pedestrians. Inside his brick townhouse, where he composes, Glass says he has created what he calls an "oasis of tranquility.""

New York Magazine "Philip Glass turns 75 on January 31, and on that night the former cabbie, plumber, iconoclast, avant-gardist, and loft pioneer will get a resounding confirmation of his elder statesmanship: the U.S. premiere of his Ninth Symphony at Carnegie Hall. I decided to celebrate ahead of time and in private, by trying to overcome years of distaste for his music. Perhaps, I thought, I had never listened hard enough to get beneath the churning surface, and impression had hardened into prejudice. A friend of mine speaks of the “ecstasy” of listening to Glass; I wanted some of that, too.

Video: Philip Glass and Occupy

After a December performance of Philip Glass's Satyagraha at the Metropolitan Opera in New York Occupy protesters try to get operagoers to ignore the police, walk down the steps, and join the demonstration. About three minutes into the video, Glass talks to the crowd and recites the closing lines of his opera, which come from the Bhagavad-Gita: "When righteousness withers away and evil rules the land, we come into being, age after age, and take visible shape, and move, a man among men, for the protection of good, thrusting back evil and setting virtue on her seat again."

Photos

Check out these photos from the Tune-In music festival at the Park Avenue Armory in New York, February 2012.

Playlist

This program aired on March 6, 2012.

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