Winnipeg Free Press Newspaper Archives Jun 13 2015, Page 96

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Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - June 13, 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba C M Y K PAGE 21 BOOKS SATURDAY, JUNE 13, 2015 EDITOR: Ben MacPhee- Sigurdson 204- 697- 7307 books@ freepress. mb. ca Endicott’s ensemble cast eminently enjoyable / D22 David Suzuki offers life lessons for young people / D24 D21 Conspicuous gaps mar legendary composer’s rewarding memoir N O one could accuse Philip Glass of leading a minimalist life. In his page- turner of a memoir, the 78- year- old American composer has plenty of tales to tell. A man who seems to have experienced one astounding epiphany after another, Glass writes of life- altering pilgrimages to India and Tibet, dancing nude through the streets of Paris while painted red by bohemians and studying under illustrious mentors — teachers at New York’s Juilliard School, French composer Nadia Boulanger and Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar. He also describes the struggles he endured on his route to a successful career in music: He left his childhood home of Baltimore to study liberal arts at the University of Chicago at the age of 15. After that, he pursued a musical education in New York against the advice of his mother. There he worked as a furniture mover, a plumber and he drove a cab, something he continued to do even after his groundbreaking opera Einstein on the Beach toured Europe and played to sold- out audiences at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Somehow combining pride and modesty, Glass guides his readers through the evolution of how he developed a new musical language, absorbing influences from classical composers such as J. S. Bach and Robert Schumann, listening to the jazz of John Coltrane and Charlie Parker, even revelling in the amplified sounds of Jefferson Airplane and David Bowie. “ I sometimes hear about work described in terms of ‘ originality’ or ‘ breakthrough,’ but my personal experience is quite different,” he explains. “ For me, music has always been about the lineage. The past is reinvented and becomes the future.” Many consider Glass the prominent voice of the future — someone who has created the sound of late 20th- century classical music. He has composed 14 operas, 44 film and TV scores, 18 pieces of music for theatre, 10 symphonies, and dozens of other pieces. His career began with music for avant- garde Samuel Beckett plays in the mid- 1960s, and Glass has kept up as a performing composer without any retirement in sight — he received the $ 100,000 Glenn Gould Prize in March. As fascinating and wide- ranging as it is, Words Without Music leaves some serious gaps. Understandably, he doesn’t go into details about every musical accomplishment; there are just too many, so hitting highlights such as Einstein and Satyagraha makes sense. The most glaring voids in this memoir are those surrounding his private life. Glass dedicates the book to his four children and tells us about Juliet and Zack, but barely mentions the two younger boys. Cameron and Marlowe are mentioned once in the whole book, and even then only to explain why his frequent trips to India were interrupted. If readers wonder who the mother of these two sons might be, they’ll have to look elsewhere. Although cursory research reveals Glass has been married to four women, only two of them are named in Words Without Music . Theatre director JoAnne Akalaitis, mother to Zack and Juliet, receives a fair bit of ink and a couple of photos. Glass also writes about his third wife, visual artist Candy Jernigan, whose death from liver cancer inspired his work in the opera Orpheus . However Luba Burtyk, his second wife, fails to receive even an entry in the index, and the same is true for Glass’s fourth wife, Holly Critchlow, mother to Cameron and Marlowe. In his review in Britain’s Telegraph newspaper, Rupert Christiansen complains Glass comes off as prudish. “ His unfailing politeness makes him a little humourless,” laments Christiansen. On the other hand, New York musician Laurie Anderson has raved the memoir is “ hilarious, touching and profound.” The truth is somewhere in between. Christiansen says Glass’s book is “ not given to emotional confession or extremes of feeling” and Glass adheres to a “ regime apparently devoid of any hint of drug or alcohol abuse.” To be fair, Glass exposes himself in certain heartbreaking tales about the death of Jernigan and the time his father banned him from the family home. He’s a dedicated vegetarian Buddhist who never got caught up in the mind- altering chemicals many others in the 1960s and ’ 70s experimented with. On the other hand, Anderson may be stretching to say her old friend’s words are hilarious. Glass has written an impressive life story, without any whiff of ghostwriting, but any wit found in these pages is quiet and carefully phrased. It’s an autobiography that could have benefited from a more forceful editor, but one that rewards anyone who wants to know what has shaped one of America’s most creative musicians. John Lyttle is a Winnipeg graphic designer. Heart of Glass Reviewed by John Lyttle Words Without Music: A Memoir By Philip Glass Norton, 416 pages, $ 35 BARTLEY KIVES COMPLETELY UPDATED! Fishin’ for Dumbasses John Toone $ 20 A Daytripper’s Guide to Manitoba Bartley Kives $ 25 On The Air Gary Moir $ 30 g reat reads for Dad shirt not included GREATPLAINS. MB. CA STEVE PYKE PHOTO D_ 21_ Jun- 13- 15_ FF_ 01. indd D21 6/ 11/ 15 5: 36: 39 PM

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