Soundtrack to an Errol Morris film

Based on Stephen Hawking’s book


Orange Mountain Music OMM0100
UPC 801837010022


1. Brief History of Time Title (1:29)
2. Mysterious No. 4 (3:36)
3. Bombs with Fidelity (2:22)
4. Slow, Simple, Sad No. 3 (3:50)
5. Mysterious No. 1
6. Slow, Simple, Sad No. 4 (3:57)
7. Mysterious No. 2 (2:42)
8. Hawking Radiation (1:42)
9. Bombs (2:47)
10.Dice (2:11)
11. Hawking-Radiation with Brass (1:43)
12. Climbing the Stairs (1:23)
13. End with Strings and Trumpets (2:17)
14. Melody in Major (3:10)
15. Signature (2:54)
16. Utility No. 1 (3:32)
17. House (2:06)
18. Closing No. 1 (3:28)
19. End Credits Arpeggio and Brass (2:11)
20. End Credits Major and Minor (4:48)


In 1991 Errol Morris’s film A Brief of Time, about Stephen Hawking and his bestselling book, became the second collaboration between Morris and composer Philip Glass. In Glass’s body of work we see a fascination with major scientific figures of the past and present. Glass has composed full operas on Einstein, Galileo, and Kepler, and his 1992 opera The Voyage (about the human spirit and discovery) opens with a wheelchair-bound scientist with a computerized voice singing about the “Music of the Spheres.”

In talking about his work on “A Brief History of Time” Glass states, “What’s interesting about Hawking is that he’s a wonderful contradiction: The man who can’t move but who goes greatest journey of all.” On the success of his book and the evolution of his own celebrity, Hawking says, “I think ABHOT has been successful for a combination of reasons. One is that people want to the universe around them, and to know where they come from. But another reason is that the public wants heroes. They made Einstein a hero and now they are making me a hero, but with much less justification. But I fit the part of a disabled genius. At least I am clearly disabled.” (For composers this would echo the figure of a deaf Beethoven and his own heroic voyages into the realm of sound).

Glass’s predilection for science as a companion to artistic endeavor and perhaps literal musical metaphor continued in pieces his tone poem “The Light” that is based on the 1887 Michelson-Morley experiment into the speed of light. In 2010, Hawking himself spoke at the World Science Festival immediately before the world premiere of Glass’s orchestral collaboration with scientist Brian Greene, “ICARUS: At the Edge of Time” which dealt with the subject of time and black holes.

When commencing work on ABHOT, Morris would give Glass a list of words like “science, black hole wheelchair.” Morris would then ask Glass about these words and what his reaction was and to start writing music. Glass elaborates, “The relationship of the music to the subject is a poetic one. It’s not a precise one. It can’t be a precise one. There is no precise relationship between music and any subject matter. It’s what we make up.” Glass continues, “The kind of thinking that goes into art-making and theater-making is not that dissimilar to the thought that goes into quantum mechanics and far-out cosmological theories. After all we share a common time and a common ethos. I think what you see in these scientists is that, on a certain level, something mysterious happens. It isn’t just a question of having all the figures and coming up with an answer. (Scientists) take a jump to something that’s beyond the figures and then they fill it in later. That was true for Einstein. He got intuition about things. He had to figure out the mathematics afterwards, it’s the intuitions that are so interesting.”
-Richard Guerin 2015 


Original score recorded at the Looking Glass Studios, NYC

Conducted by Michael Riesman

Engineer: Angela Dryden

Produced by Kurt Munkacsi

CD Produced for OMM by Don Christensen

Philip Glass’ music is published by Dunvagen Music Publishers, Inc./ASCAP

© 2015 Orange Mountain Music

Executive Producers for Orange Mountain Music: Philip Glass, Kurt Munkacsi and Don Christensen