Philip Glass

In augustus was Philip Glass voor een blitztournee in Nederland. Hij sprak onder meer met Melchior over zijn boek 'Woorden zonder muziek' in de Amsterdamse Stadsschouwburg.

Welkomstwoord - Melchior Huurdeman

Good evening, and thank you so much Tracy Metz for your introduction.
I am really grateful you picked me to do the interview with the eminent composer Philip Glass. In a few minutes I will have an interview with Mr. Glass, mainly about his book 'Words without Music', his memoires. But please, let this also be an interactive evening. This is also an opportunity for you to ask whatever you wanna ask to this very inspirational man.

They asked me whether I was able to introduce Philip Glass. Able? Yes... but no... After reading his memoires I thought no. Everyone who is in the audience has to buy and read his book. It is not only great fun to read his revealing anecdotes about his travels to India, his lessons with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. How his opera 'Einstein on the Beach' came about. His successions of jobs. 'Cause, my goodness, this guy was good with his hands, plumbing and steelwork, without gloves... It is a miracle he didn't turn out to be a single left-handed pianist. It is also a very interesting book regarding the development of his music, and an honest book about his personal life. While reading 'Words without music' Mr. Glass became as vivid as the first time I met him...
That was back in 1993. I was working as an editor in chief for the precursor of Vrije Geluiden a live music show called Reiziger in Muziek. All my heroes appeared on our studio floor: Dietrich Fischer Dieskau, Pierre Boulez, Hans Vonk, Karl Heinz Stockhausen, Yehudi Menuhin. And you know what? They were all so easy to work with...

Reiziger in Muziek was a low budget show, so sometimes I had to pick up musicians and drive them to the studio myself.
Two trips I will never forget. One I made with the outstanding pianist and close friend of Bela Bartok, Gyorgy Sandor. By then he was around 80 and I drove him from Cologne to Amsterdam, in the middle of the night. Along the way he talked openly about his friendship and his lessons with Bartok. And about the night he premiered Bartoks 3rd pianoconcerto in february 1946. Meanwhile it was raining cats and dogs and the sight was terrible. Then a big bang... the car flew off the highway and ran through the mud, spinned 180 degrees and found the tarmac again. We drove on. I looked at him. I was so embarrassed. But he was really calm and smiled, laid his hand on my shoulder, and the only thing he said was, "I know I am old... but please..."

The other memorable trip, was in november 1993 with Philip Glass. I picked him up in Brussels after a solo concert. We drove for more than 2 hours and talked and talked. He made a big impression on me. It was almost a father to son conversation. About relationships, the love for the piano, stage fright, about Nadia Boulanger, the soundscreens along the road, yoga, growing older and about him being a vegetarian. He changed me in a way because I immediately noticed that at the gas station along the road I didn't even look at the meatballs. I became a vegetarian, to be honest it lasted only 3 weeks, but anyway... The next morning Philip Glass played on national tv. It was a memorable performance.

Being a taxidriver for Mr. Glass was truly a highlight. Since then I listen to his music with the ears as if he is a close friend. And after reading 'Words without Music', I know the ins and and outs of one of my favorite pieces of all time, his first violin concerto written in 1987. I play this concerto on so many occasions, but especially when I am sad, not to cheer me up but to share the misery with the music. It only happens with great composers, that after just a few bars you can say for sure this definitely is Philip Glass, this is Glasswork, with his distinct, hypnotic musical language and his sound, and when you'll ask him what does your music sound like? He replies with: it sounds like New York to me." A warm welcome for Philip Glass...