Classical Music is Dead*

Minimalism, My Miniskirt, and I

Posted in music by Sugar Vendil on 11/11/2009

missoni_2v PhillipGlass_1983 pucci balloonsWho: T. Gureckis, Assistant to Philip Glass/Co-founder, Found Object Music Productions +1 (me)

What: Philip Glass Violin Concerto No. 1

Bruckner Orchester Linz/Dennis Russell Davies, Conductor/Renaud Capuçon, violin

Where: Avery Fisher Hall

Wore: Bandage mini-skirt, eggplant v-neck tank, ankle boots, leather jacket, and tights (to keep it proper)

Interesting Fact: Got ‘booed’ back in 1987 (I was probably too busy watching ‘Jem and the Holograms’ to notice)

Feelings/Thoughts: Enjoyed immensely.

Why such an aversion (to say the least) to Glass by many classical music aficionados?  Some people really HATE Philip Glass, with a passion.  Whoever thought arpeggios could cause such a stir?  I don’t hate on Missoni or Pucci for having a signature style.

Unless one really knows Glass’s works really well, most would not be able to readily distinguish one piece from another (I wouldn’t, beyond solo vs. chamber vs. concerto, etc.) because there are so many similarities.  Lots of simple arpeggios, major, minor, 7ths, nothing un-analyzable.  This is why his music has oftentimes been disregarded as having any sort of musical value: it is accessible, unpretentious, straightforward.  However, even those who hate his music the most can probably instantly recognize Glass in 5 seconds (or less).  Regardless of how one feels about the fact that, yes, Glass is repetitive (and not just within a piece of music but across his body of work as a whole) it’s undeniable that he’s done something original, created his own musical identity that no one else can claim, and that alone is deserving of respect.

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4 Responses

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  1. Franz K. said, on 11/11/2009 at 12:35 am

    Well….”original” & “own musical identity”…
    If you listen to music by certain Leos Janacek from about 120 years earlier, you’ll hear a lot of Glass in there. Janacek can claim quite a bit of that identity (and respect).

    • Sugar Vendil said, on 11/11/2009 at 12:56 pm

      Come to think of it, my friends and I TOTALLY get Glass and Janacek mixed up ALL the time. And we giggle about how easy it is to confuse the two.
      Not so much. Even if there are similarities to Glass (are you thinking of a few riffs in Osud? or what piece exactly?) do those elements define Janacek? Should we attribute every little pre-existing thing in the works of current composers as belonging primarily and/or absolutely to someone else?
      It’s funny how we can say, for example, Bach influenced so and so and so on, yet Mozart is still Mozart, etc., but when there are a couple of arpeggios in Janacek we suggest that he should stake a claim in Philip Glass’s identity as a composer…and in the respect he receives as well? I don’t think Janacek made Glass’s career and I don’t think Glass stole any of Janacek’s respect (or his music), even if there are possible influences, so he can keep his respect all for himself, thank you.
      And definitely thanks for reading and responding–you gave me something to ponder for a bit.

  2. Franz K. said, on 11/12/2009 at 2:49 pm

    It’s not about stealing – and I am the last person to deny Glass anything – but there is quite a lot of stuff that could be easily confused..and that is definitely traceable as a big time influence. So, as for originality – I would go to the source.

    The repetitiveness as we know it from Glass et al. is definitely Janacek’s discovery. Go almost anywhere – Sinfonietta, Broucek, Makropoulos and – quite actual these days in NYC – From the House of the Dead…Glass could be proud :-)

    Personally, I find Janacek more with his approach more human, more personal, warmer and musical. But that’s just a personal taste.

    • Sugar Vendil said, on 11/13/2009 at 9:46 am

      But Janacek isn’t ‘the source.’ Repetitiveness is a trait of music in general. The relationship between Janacek and Glass is extremely vague and weak. And it’s not like Glass lives in a bubble; yes, he had formal training and studied the music of other composers (like nearly every classical composer out there). Regardless, there is no clear relationship between the two composers.
      Also, it’s common knowledge that Glass’s music is influenced by Ravi Shankar and Indian repetitive structure, not Janacek.


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