Bookreview. Phillip Glass: Words without Music

Genius is a fascinating thing. I love reading about people who “made it”. A well written autobiography is the ultimate. The problem with biological studies is that the person writing it often has a n unhealthy respect for the person he is writing about and may leave out critical detail. Above all it is often the biographers point of view and not the way the hero of the biography sees things.

Of course a autobiography will have certain details left our as well. That is the author ‘s choice, but it will be his exact thoughts.

I couldn’t find the autobiography of Phillip Glass, Words Without Music on Amazon or kindle when it was published, but got one in the beautiful Shakespeare and Co bookshop in Paris.

What an incredible read for music lovers. If you are not over familiar with modern music and art, keep google and You Tube close by. I learned so much about 20th century art and music.What impressed me is the similar attitude to happenings around him that Steve Jobs said as well. You never can see the importance of the things you need to do now. He exposed himself to things seemingly unimportant to the music he composed at the time. He was involved in electronics, lighting, modern literature, worked as an assistant to a sculptor and directed plays. These crafts enabled him later to write and direct his operas. He knew about recording and electronic music. His involvement in meditation led him to India where music of the subcontinent of India later played a crucial role in his new style, called minimalism.

It tought me to be open to new experiences and to embrace any learning possibilities as you never know where it might come in handy.

We live in a world of instant gratification. People want to try something today and want recognition tomorrow. Glass supported him and his family with odd jobs until late in his fourties. He worked as a taxi driver, furniture removal man, sculptors assistant and other odd jobs to keep the family going. But he never stopped believing in his music. Even though he did not get the recognition he craved, he kept going.

I love reading how artists work together to form communities of their own. They supported each other and encouraged one another. ( Does it still happen today?) They shared ideas and talked about their projects. Often they collaborated as well.

Glass is a fascinating personality with depth and endless facets, like his music. The book was worth the read and I am convinced I will look back at it often as a reference work.

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