When Philip Glass receives an honorary doctorate from his alma mater Juilliard on Friday at the school's 109th commencement, you can watch a live stream at: http://live.juilliard.edu
I have a premonition that the venerable composer is going to preach Independence to the young students. Over the past few years Glass has distilled his message to be that his success is attributable to his maintaining independence over the years.
It is of course easier said than done. Most musicians, actors, painters are happy to find any form of gainful employment in their given field. Even when one does find work composing music, for film – television – commercials, it's very difficult not to get sucked in and find yourself in a situation from which it's impossible to extricate yourself from.
Glass' career is simultanesously a model for a successful modern composer but also one that is unique – as with any success there's a certain amount of luck involved on how it all came together for him. Much credit must be given to his intelligence, his business acumen, his personality, and of course his talent as a composer. But above all of elements which young people can control, I think Glass' work ethic stands above. I used to work in construction and I was a decent worker. But from time to time you'd meet a guy who treated roofing a house in the middle of a hot summer day like it was his favorite thing.
People who love what they do are wonderful to be around. But having enthusiasm for what you do and getting up at 5am to work till midnight are two different things. A successful version of Glass' career may have been possible with half of his work ethic. What he has created on all fronts of his professional activity is nothing short of superhuman.