We were there too, with a couple of hundred more admirers, sharing the same space with one of the most important musical minds of the century – and the century before, enjoying a casual conversation about his life, friends, lineage [”covers a lot of things… but the important thing about lineage is the connectiveness”], lessons learned from his father, Ben, like mental chess or, the most important of them all, how to listen…
[”Father had a record store…”][”…After a whole day in a music store he went home and listened to music. If he had records in the store and couldn’t sell them, he wanted to see what’s wrong with them. So he brought them home and listened to them. His idea was, if he could find out what’s wrong with them he could buy the right records… Pieces he brought home were mostly modern pieces; it could be Shostakovich… Bartók, and he would listen to them over and over… he became kind of expert on modern music… and his little store in Baltimore became the place to go when you were looking for modern music…”]Paul: ”I love the story of John Cage saying to you: ”It’s good… But there are too many notes!”
Philip: ”No, he never said it was good…! Don’t make it better than it was!” ”He said: ”Philip…. Too many notes!” And I said: ”John, I’m one of your children whether you like it or not…”Thoughts, pauses, reflections, life fragments, anecdotes, friends; his epic Einstein on the Beach; the inspiration he took from Rothko’s vision; his creative combination of live performance with film in La Belle et la Bête; his memories of Moondog, the mighty Viking of 6th Avenue… the fact that he worked as a plumber and, more adventurously, as a taxi driver to fund his music. [”At some point, I began to ask myself where did the music come from; then, I decided to write music because it would be a way to learn where it came from. But it turned out not to be true… I spent the rest of my life trying to answer that question… and I still can’t…”]
Paul Holdengräber, founder and director of Live from the NYPL talk series, was the host.
Philip Glass | A Mind of Music, NYPL
June 15th, 2017