Symphony No. 8
Music by Philip Glass
Dennis Russell Davies, conductor
Bruckner Orchester Linz


Orange Mountain Music 0028


1 Movement I 19:27
2 Movement II 12:18
3 Movement III 6:57


Symphony No. 8 represents a return, after a number of major works, to orchestral music where the subject of the work is the language of music itself, as in the tradition of the 18th and 19th century symphonies. To elucidate briefly:

Symphony No. 5 is an extended work for chorus, vocal soloists and orchestra with texts drawn from the traditional religious and wisdom traditions.

Symphony No. 6 is based on a major poem, “Plutonian Ode,” by Allen Ginsberg and was composed for soprano and orchestra.

Symphony No. 7 “A Toltec Symphony”, is based on the indigenous traditions of Mexico and includes extended passages for chorus.

Symphony No. 8 contains no references or allusions to non-musical materials at all. However, its formal structure is quite unusual and is worth a brief comment. The three movements are markedly different from each other in length, texture and internal musical procedures.

The first movement is the longest of the three, almost 20 minutes in length. It begins with a statement of eight different ‘themes.’ This series is then developed in whole or in part, recombined with various harmonies and melodic elements and culminates in a series of ‘stretto’-like passages producing a highly contrapuntal effect.

The second movement, about 12 minutes long, is in the form of a passacaglia with a series of melodic variations. The harmonic basis of the passacaglia is 16 measures long, which allows for some extended, at times quite oblique, melodic embellishments.

The third movement, by comparison to the first two, is quite brief – a short 7 minutes. However, what it lacks in length it makes up in density. The theme with its accompanying harmony is heard twice then joined by a counter theme, also heard twice. An extended cadence serves as a coda to the third movement and the symphony itself.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Dennis Russell Davies for his invaluable help. There were countless questions and details relating to the actual notes I composed as well as matters of orchestration that he addressed and resolved in his usual dedicated and tireless fashion.

Also, I would like to commend my long-time music director and associate Michael Riesman, who was responsible for the final editing and mixing of the work. This was an especially challenging assignment considering the novelty and complexity of the music.

Finally, I am very fortunate to have had the premiere and first recording of Symphony No. 8 with the Bruckner Orchester Linz. This is an absolutely superb world-class ensemble. They have brought the highest standard and enthusiasm to my work. Many thanks to them.

— Philip Glass
January 2006

THE BRUCKNER ORCHESTER LINZ is the state orchestra of the Austrian province of Upper Austria. The orchestra, which looks back on history and traditions stretching back 200 years, has developed over the last three decades into one of the leading orchestras of Central Europe. With its 110 musicians it is not only the opera orchestra at the Upper Austrian State Theatre and the Landestheater, but also the concert orchestra for the State of Upper Austria. Between its local concerts and international touring activity, the orchestra offers an exciting and varied repertory, ranging from early classical and baroque to the very modern. Among the outstanding appearances of the Bruckner Orchester in Linz are the concerts at the Bruckner Festival, the Ars Electronica Festival, the Linz Klangwolke and the Voestival. Among the guest performances made by the Ensemble in 2004/2005 were tours in Italy and the Czech Republic. In 2005/06 the program included the orchestra’s first USA tour, with the world premiere of Philip Glass’ 8th Symphony, which was commissioned by the Bruckner Orchester Linz. The piece was also recorded on the tour. Before arriving on the international scene the Bruckner Orchester Linz has taken part in the Brighton and Bath Festivals, Prager Herbst (Autumn in Prague), Primavista, concertistica Lugano, Beethovenfest in Bonn, Semana Mozart Barcelona, Festival Internacional de Música y Danza and the Bratislava Festival.

The orchestra has played under guest conductors such as Serge Baudo, Vladimir Fedosejev, Michael Gielen, Heinrich Schiff, Bernhard Klee, Hans Wallat and Franz Welser-Möst, and has been molded by chief conductors such as Theodor Guschlbauer, Manfred Mayrhofer and Martin Sieghart. Since 2002 Dennis Russell Davies has been the Chief Conductor of the Bruckner Orchester Linz.

PHILIP GLASS, born in Baltimore, Maryland, is a graduate of the University of Chicago and the Juilliard School. In the early 1960s, Glass spent two years of intensive study in Paris with Nadia Boulanger. While there, he was hired by Conrad Rooks, director of the film Chappaqua, to work as Ravi Shankar’s assistant transcribing the great Indian sitarist’s music into western notation. Upon his return to New York, he applied these eastern techniques to his own music. By 1974, Glass had a number of significant and innovative projects, creating a large collection of new music for his performing group, The Philip Glass Ensemble, and for the Mabou Mines Theater Company, which he co-founded. This period culminated in Music in Twelve Parts, followed by the landmark opera, Einstein on the Beach, created with Robert Wilson in 1976. Since Einstein, Glass has expanded his repertoire to include music for opera, dance, theater, chamber ensemble, orchestra, and film. His score for Martin Scorsese’s Kundun received an Academy Award nomination while his score for Peter Weir’s The Truman Show won him a Golden Globe. His film score for Stephen Daldry’s The Hours received Golden Globe, Grammy, and Academy Award nominations, along with winning a BAFTA in Film Music from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

Glass continues to produce for diverse audiences. Recent film scores include Errol Morris’ Academy Award winning documentary The Fog of War and David Koepp’s Secret Window. In 2004 Glass premiered the new work Orion – a collaboration between Glass and six other international artists opening in Athens as part of the cultural celebration of the Olympics in Greece. Recent premieres include the opera Waiting for the Barbarians, libretto by Christopher Hampton, based on the book by J.M. Coetzee and Symphony No. 7 “A Toltec Symphony” with the National Symphony Orchestra.

Glass continues to tour as a solo pianist and with his own ensemble.

DENNIS RUSSELL DAVIES is one of the most innovative and eclectic conductors in the classical music world, and he has succeeded in challenging and inspiring audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. Davies has ventured into operatic, orchestral and even popular forms of music, as conductor, chamber musician and pianist, to express his versatile musical agenda. Since 1980, he has lived in Germany but has maintained an active presence on the North American scene as a regular guest conductor of the major orchestras and opera houses. In Europe, Davies has recently been Chief Conductor of the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra and, in America, The Music Director of the American Composers Orchestra for 25 years. He currently continues as Professor of Orchestral Conducting at the Salzburg Mozarteum. In the fall of 2002, he begins his post as Chief Conductor of the Linz Opera, and Chief Conductor and Music Director of the Bruckner Orchester Linz.

In addition to his work with symphonic orchestras, Mr. Davies is also renowned for his work with opera. He has conducted operas internationally in Amsterdam, Munich, Leipzig, Paris and Hamburg, and in the United States for Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera and New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Davies tenure as Generalmusikdirektor of the Stuttgart Opera, from 1980 to 1987, is regarded as one of the most significant periods in that theater’s distinguished history.

Davies prolific recordings, as conductor as well as pianist, number well over 60 and having received numerous awards, can be found on many labels. His recording diversity extends from Mozart, Schubert, Bizet and Satie, to Shostakovich, Glass and Kancheli, to name a few.

Davies has had successful tenures as the General Music Director of the City of Bonn (Germany), Principal Conductor/Classical Music Program Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Principal Conductor of the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra and Music Director of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. In addition to his North American orchestral guest conducting appearances, Davies has guest conducted some of the most prestigious orchestras in Europe including the Berlin Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Gewandhaus Orchestra and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.

Mr. Davies was born in the United States, in Ohio. He graduated from Juilliard in New York, having studied piano with Lonny Epstein and Sascha Gorodnitski and conducting with Jean Morel and Jorge Mester.


Composed by Philip Glass. Conducted by Dennis Russell Davies. Performed by the Bruckner Orchester Linz.

This Symphony is a commissioned work by the Bruckner Orchester Linz, Austria. Dennis Russell Davies, Chief Conductor.

Executive Producers for Bruckner Orchester Linz: Dr. Heribert Schröder, Dr. Thomas Königstorfer, Bruckner Orchester Linz.

The Bruckner Orchester Linz is the Philharmonic Orchestra of the State of Upper Austria, Dr. Josef Pühringer, Governor.

Recorded in the Mechanics Hall, Worcester, MA, USA.

Recording engineers: Ichiho Nishiki, Joe Chilorio (Mechanics Hall). Assistant Engineer: Nicole Ribaudo. Edited by Ichiho Nishiki. Mixed at The Looking Glass, New York, NY, USA.

Produced by: Michael Riesman and Don Christensen.

Executive Producers for Orange Mountain Music: Philip Glass, Kurt Munkacsi and Don Christensen.
Special Thanks to: Jim Keller, Cat Celebreeze, Joe Melillo, Alice Bernstein, Pat Scully, Sandy Sawotka, Karen Hopkins, Danielle Dibeck, Jessica Bathurst.
Design: Lissi Sigillo Cover Photo: Monica Almeida/The New York Times.

Symphony No. 8 is published by Dunvagen Music Publishers, Inc. (ASCAP).

℗ and © 2006 by Orange Mountain Music.