glass notes
Etudes Program Notes

Thanks to Stephen Dosen for sending these in:

"Etudes for Piano is a set of twenty etudes composed between the years of
1992 and 2012. The first ten were composed with the idea of providing
performable music that would also improve my piano playing, and I feel
that I have succeeded fairly well in that regard. The second set, Etudes
#11-20 were composed with a different idea in mind. By then, I had
acquired the performing technique that I needed, and I was looking at
Etudes #11-20 as part of the general array of musical expression that
had become available to me through my years of composing. Finally,
I anticipated that the sequence of Etudes #1-20 when played in their
entirety would provide a musical shape of its own.
It was important that the personalities of my guest performers as
interpreters could be reflected in a specific set of pieces drawn from the
overall work. Therefore, I provided them each an integrated set of pieces
which could be played as a work complete in itself. For that reason, the
order of this evening’s concert has been rearranged.
The music will be performed in the following way. The concert will
begin with my playing Etudes #1, 2 and 4. This will be followed by Sally
Whitwell’s performances of #9, 14, 7, 15, 16, 19 and 11. At this point there
will be a short intermission. After the intermission, I will perform Etudes
#8, 17 and 10. This will be followed by Maki Namekawa’s performances
of Etudes #3, 5, 6, 18, 12, 13 and 20.
There were a number of special events and commissions that brought
about the actual composition of the pieces. Etudes #1–5 were composed
for Dennis Russell Davies on the occasion of his 50th birthday in 1994.
Etude #6 was commissioned by the Sydney Festival in 1996. Etudes
#11 and 12 were commissioned by Bruce Levingston in 2007 and
premiered at Avery Fisher Hall. Etude #17 was commissioned for the
25th Anniversary of the Menil Collection in Houston, TX and premiered
on 2 December 2012. Etudes #18, 19 and 20 and were commissioned by
the Perth International Arts Festival in 2012 and will be performed for the
first time this evening."
– Philip Glass
11 February 2013
Philip Glass
Etudes for Piano
Philip Glass
Etudes #1,2, 4
Sally Whitwell
Etudes #9, 14, 7, 15, 16, 19, 11
Interval (20 minutes)
Philip Glass
Etudes #8, 17, 10
Maki Namekawa
Etudes #3, 5, 6, 18, 12, 13, 20

4 thoughts on “Etudes Program Notes”

  1. Thank you, Stephen!
    Thank you to the performers. I assume you were magnificent, & wish I could have been in Perth for this performance.
    Thank you to the Composer! What more can I say Philip.
    To the Greater Glass Organization:
    PLEASE record these pieces!

  2. Given that the Etudes can be played in any (?) order, and that the numbering has changed as more pieces have been added*; I propose that we assign unofficial names to the individual pieces to avoid confusion. I’ve noticed that, in the first set of ten, every second Etude (and #9), contains musical material that has reappeared in other Glass works so I’ve found myself thinking of them by such associations:
    #2 Echorus
    #4 Tapajos
    #6 Persephone (The Cocktail Party)
    #8 Tirol/Neverwas
    #9 Negro
    I like the idea of the Etudes having names that evoke some quality of the individual pieces, not just other incarnations of their musical ideas; so, to get the ball rolling, I propose that #5 be known as ‘Katrina’ because, when I listen to it, images from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina flood my imagination. Any suggestions for alternate titles?
    *the original 6 Etudes, as played in the recording by Dennis Russell Davies, ‘Philip Glass Piano Music (DRD)’, matched with the set of 10, as played in the recording by Philip Glass: 1=3 2=2 3=4 4=9 5=5 6=10.

  3. Hi – can anyone guide me to where I can purchase performance recordings of etudes 16-20 ?? – saw the performances at the Barbican in May – simply sublime!

Leave a Reply