Last chance to support Meet the Composer Season Two

The best podcast I listen to has just a couple of days left in its Kickstarter campaign. It’s funded, but still a ways off hitting the stretch goal: bonus music by the featured composers. Last year’s bonus tracks were great, so if you can swing it, head over there and give them your support. (Check out the Caroline Shaw bonus track from last year while you’re there.)

And not only that, but patron David Weller has offered another ten grand for the future of the show if they hit the stretch goal. They’re about $9k away at the moment, so think of whatever you can afford and it gets doubled for free.

Goulding Glass

Last Monday, Philip Glass was awarded this year’s Glenn Gould prize. It’s a relatively new prize, awarded every few years as a lifetime achievement for musicians. It’s not afraid to court popularism—all for the best, as far as I’m concerned—with Leonard Cohen having received the prize in 2011.

It’s interesting to see the names Gould and Glass together: Gould was a master technician who seemed most interested in exploring complex, weaving layers of counterpoint; Glass is the arch simplifier, stripping his music of everything that could be called decoration.

But in peculiar ways, their music has things in common. Both are iconoclasts: Gould’s precisely detached finger technique and Glass’ hypnotic arpeggios are too distinctive to be imitated. Their music is highly abstract, and leaves many listeners cold (while also creating vociferous fans). And both have rejected tradition: Gould preferred the recording studio to the concert stage, and argued for performers to interpret music in new ways rather than giving complete fealty to the score; Glass’ first opera, Einstein on the Beach, was written with the idea that the audience could come and go during its performance.

Gould didn’t record any Glass, to my knowledge. In fact I’d be very surprised if he even liked his music. But he did, in a hilarious outtake from his recording of the Brahms rhapsodies and ballades,[1] do a strange Glassian impression of the Brahms. It’s oddly reminiscent of the opening of Caroline Shaw’s Gustave Le Gray, which is Chopin seen through Shaw’s lens.

  1. Via I had no idea this video existed when I started this post. It takes a certain kind of geek to get excited about five hours of Glenn Gould in the recording studio. I am that kind of geek.  ↩