glass notes
Music Without Words – Now at iTunes

Take a musical journey through Philip Glass's memoirs with "Music Without Words". 
“Music Without Words” is an album of music by Philip Glass chosen by Orange Mountain Music as an accompaniment to the recently published memoir “Words Without Music” by Philip Glass.

It would be impossible to provide anything but a cursory glance at the career of Philip Glass in a single volume like this.  The purpose of this collection is not to present an encompassing portrait of Philip Glass. Instead, we used some of the chapter titles from Glass’s memoir (“Chicago,” “Juilliard,” “Paris,” “Ravi Shankar”) and found pieces which had, at least to us, a direct or poetic connection.  

To start the album, we chose “Melody No.1” from Glass’s collection of “Melodies for Saxophone” as having a direct connection to the type of Jazz that Glass might have heard as a teenager during his time at the University of Chicago from ages 15 to 19.  What we discover in the book is that even though the piece was written more than four decades after that time, the influence of jazz on Glass provided something long-lasting in the composer’s psyche.  It’s a connection that many of his fans and listeners might not know about. For the three parts of Philip Glass's life having to do with meeting Ravi Shankar, traveling in India, and eventually collaborating with Shankar, we selected three pieces from their collaborative work "Passages" as arranged and performed by Dennis Russell Davies for saxophone quartet, strings, piano and percussion.  

For “Baltimore” we chose the second movement from Glass’s Third Symphony (for 19 strings) as this music seems to have a spiritual connection to Bartok’s “Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celeste,” the type of music that Glass’s father, a record store owner named Ben Glass, would have taken home and listened to late into the night with a young Philip listening clandestinely on the staircase back in the 1940s.  

Another illustration of our intentions is the chapter about Glass’s decades of summers spent in Nova Scotia. His interactions with the land and its local farmers who have lived there for generations, is perfectly captured in the movement “Canada” from Glass’s collaborative world music piece “Orion.”

We’ve also included some unreleased material from Glass’s Julliard days. This material was recorded direct to acetate and was in a severely deteriorated condition, a result of being played many times. We’ve used contemporary technology to “clean” the recording to a passable state. We felt its historical significance merited inclusion now more than 55 years after this student recording was made.

This is not a “Greatest Hits” or a “Philip Glass Sampler” or even a chronology of Glass’s activity as a composer.  We hope that those who enjoy Philip Glass’s memoir “Words Without Music” will find this volume to be a connective and complimentary musical experience.

5 thoughts on “Music Without Words – Now at iTunes”

  1. I guess you could call this album more of a “concept compilation”, fitting in with the book’s chapters thematically. Definitely downloading that Sonatina: tidbits of pre-Glass Glass are always interesting. Incidentally, what year is that recording from?

  2. I’ve just finished reading the “Opera” chapter. In the end of the chapter, Glass lists a few of his operas (probably those that mean more to him), among those is the opera Mattogrosso (1989). I have never heard of this opera, it is not listed in the compositions list, and Google returns no results. How odd…

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