Watch a Video of Philip Glass Discussing His Memoir, Words Without Music

I’ve just started reading Philip Glass’s memoir, Words Without Music. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) It’s quite timely that Google has posted a video of him giving a talk at Google about the book, and his life. So far, the book is interesting, but Glass is not a very good writer, and the prose is a bit turgid. But he’s got lots of interesting tales to tell.

4 thoughts on “Watch a Video of Philip Glass Discussing His Memoir, Words Without Music

  1. I’m almost done with the book, actually. Parts are really good; I had read the section on Chicago in my alumni magazine, which is why I ended up preordering the book for my iPad. The section on Boulanger is really good, with a few items that I had not seen before. But a lot of the book feels weird. Very incomplete, and too deferential. Reich hardly is ever mentioned, and there are nice words about Stockhausen and other composers that just seem like the words of a composer who can’t say anything negative about pretty much anyone. There are few details, really, about his private life; one of his wives (Luba Burtyk) has yet to be mentioned and I’m already past where Cindy Jerginan died. Very little about his kids, but way, way too much travelogue. It would be great if he were a verhy interesting travel writer, but he isn’t. Those parts really dragged. When he writes about his music is when he really shines, but he also has this habit of making reference to a lot of his later works as coming out of some life event earlier on, which seems almost like a running advertisement for how “great” he is (at one point, he even seems to indicate that his perusal of Bruckner’s music led to how he (Glass) wrote for orchestra). His ego does come out, yet he can’t really seem honest in some of his opinions if they are more negative than he would like them to be.

    So it’s a good read, but very incomplete. I felt he came across more honestly and interesting when I interviewed him on several occasions for my college radio station and when he and I were driving together to his first concert at the University of Chicago in the early 80’s.

    • Yes, I’ve just gotten past the bit about Bruckner; it seemed very much like he wants to say how great he is.

  2. I’m almost done with the book, actually. Parts are really good; I had read the section on Chicago in my alumni magazine, which is why I ended up preordering the book for my iPad. The section on Boulanger is really good, with a few items that I had not seen before. But a lot of the book feels weird. Very incomplete, and too deferential. Reich hardly is ever mentioned, and there are nice words about Stockhausen and other composers that just seem like the words of a composer who can’t say anything negative about pretty much anyone. There are few details, really, about his private life; one of his wives (Luba Burtyk) has yet to be mentioned and I’m already past where Cindy Jerginan died. Very little about his kids, but way, way too much travelogue. It would be great if he were a verhy interesting travel writer, but he isn’t. Those parts really dragged. When he writes about his music is when he really shines, but he also has this habit of making reference to a lot of his later works as coming out of some life event earlier on, which seems almost like a running advertisement for how “great” he is (at one point, he even seems to indicate that his perusal of Bruckner’s music led to how he (Glass) wrote for orchestra). His ego does come out, yet he can’t really seem honest in some of his opinions if they are more negative than he would like them to be.

    So it’s a good read, but very incomplete. I felt he came across more honestly and interesting when I interviewed him on several occasions for my college radio station and when he and I were driving together to his first concert at the University of Chicago in the early 80’s.

    • Yes, I’ve just gotten past the bit about Bruckner; it seemed very much like he wants to say how great he is.

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