In New York it is impossible, almost forced, not to end up trapped by the music of Philip Glass. His operas sound at the Metropolitan Opera, his portrait by Chuck Close on the 86th Street subway and that “Mad Rush” of the city that never sleeps. This project was born influenced by the performer’s musical moment and circumstances after having lived in the Big Apple for 7 years.
This “Mad Rush – Philip Glass” project has brought together some of the most representative pieces by one of the most influential composers on the current music scene, recently awarded the XIV BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Music and Opera “for his extraordinary contribution to musical creation and opera, with a great impact on the history of music in the 20th and 21st centuries”, according to the jury.
In his memoir (Words Without Music: A Memoir by Philip Glass edited by Liveright Publishing Corporation), Glass identifies his own sound with the city in which he has lived the longest and in which he still resides, New York. Asked about this, he assures that “what makes New York such a wonderful place is that people come there from all over the country and from all over the world, generally with an open mind, wanting to work with others and in search of new ideas. New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Madrid are such cities; big cities tend to congregate artists”, he concludes.
After his travels through Europe and Asia, in 1967 he returned to New York and created his own ensemble: the Philip Glass Ensemble, a formation made up of synthesizers, keyboards and amplified brass, with which he would put into practice a new approach to music. musical creation that ended up being called “minimalism”. Although he now says he does not feel comfortable with that label, Glass was one of its creators and greatest exponents.
When asked about the evolution of his style, which he himself defined years ago as “an attempt to integrate the three musical elements: melody, harmony and rhythm”, he now states that he prefers to “redefine the elements. Instead of talking about harmony, melody and rhythm, let’s talk about language, imagination and intuition. The language of music can be very specific, depending on where, when and with whom you study it… The language of music is what we learn to play and listen to… The other two elements, imagination and intuition, are very important: you can get a degree in the language of music, but you can’t get a degree in imagination or intuition. Those are the things that we bring with us when we start working, and that is just as true in architecture, medicine, politics or economics. Without imagination and intuition, music doesn’t really make sense.”