Philip Glass’s Music In Eight Parts Gets Official Debut After 50 Years

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A lost work by minimalist composer Philip Glass has been found and restored, after 50 years, and is getting its world premier as a recorded work.

Music In Eight Parts was performed a handful of time in 1970, but the manuscript was lost for decades. It was recently found and put up for auction at Christie’s Auction House in New York City in late-2017.

Since then, the score was obtained by Glass’s publishers, Dunvagen Music Publishers, and a new arrangement has been made, with Glass’s supervision, for the current Philip Glass Ensemble, featuring woodwinds, keyboard, and voice.

The Philip Glass Ensemble recorded its parts remotely in April 2020, and they were assembled by music director Michael Riesman at his home studio in Manhattan.

Here’s what the publisher has to say about the work:

“Glass defines Minimalism in his music as existing from 1965 to 1975 – up to and including his opera Einstein on the Beach (1975-76) These largely theoretical pieces such as Music in Similar Motion (1969), Music in Fifths (1969), Music with Changing Parts (1970) all led to Glass’s seminal compendium Music in Twelve Parts (1971-74.)

So how can a major piece from this time go missing?

It’s theorized that after Glass’s 1975 opera, Einstein on the Beach landed the composer in a fair amount of debt, Glass was forced to sell a number of scores. In Glass’s archive, only fragmentary sketches of MUSIC IN EIGHT PARTS remained as evidence of the piece’s existence. Glass “never intended this early music to last” and yet these pieces have ended up being some of his most appreciated.

MUSIC IN EIGHT PARTS is immediately recognizable as being of Glass’s minimalist musical language in full stride and it is played with absolute mastery by the specialists of this repertoire.”

This world premiere recording was produced by Lisa Bielawa, Richard Guérin, and Michael Riesman and features artwork by artist Sol LeWitt, frequent collaborator of Glass’s including works like Dance from 1979. It was LeWitt that designed the cover for the original recording of Music in Twelve Parts in the 1970s.

You can preview Music In Twelve Parts at the Orange Mountain Music site.

Terry Riley Lost Interview + ‘Music With Balls’

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This video, via Cuneiform Records, captures a lost interview with seminal minimalist composer Terry Riley.

Riley’s pioneering electro-acoustic music of the 1960’s explored combining tape delay with electronic and acoustic instruments to create feedback loops that allowed live layering of sounds.

His hypnotic 1969 album, A Rainbow In Curved Air, influenced musicians like Pete Townshend of The Who and classical composers like Steve Reich alike. Hearing the album now, it’s easy to appreciate how it blew people’s minds in the 60’s and has an influence that extends all the way to modern electronic music.

The 2005 Henry Kaiser interview was recorded for a DVD that was never released of Riley’s 1969 multimedia project with sculptor Arlo Acton, Music With Balls, embedded below:

Music With Balls was first televised on KQED in April 1969. It was a synthesis of abstract visuals, featuring Arlo Acton’s spherical sculptures of glittering titanium, and a soundtrack on which Terry Riley played hypnotically repetitive music using the feedback from two tape machines.

The interview is unedited, so it’s a little raw, but it offers a unique example of Riley discussing his process and demoing his approach, a style that has inspired other electronic musicians for 50 years.