Hardest Way To Make Easy Living etc: Philip Glass at 70

Sunday 4 February 2007

On the occasion of his 70th birthday, Sequenza 21 is hosting a debate on whether Philip Glass is overrated or underrated. Part of the discussion has centred on why his later music seems to be so often driven by monetary more than artistic motives.
UbuWeb has both audio-only and video available for download of the Philip Glass episode of the 1975 series Music With Roots in the Aether, in which Glass, in a magnificent shirt, sits surrounded by small children eating pizza while being interviewed by Robert Ashley, in an even more magnificent shirt. The interview begins with Ashley speculating on why he hates children, before Glass explains his current financial situation.
Glass is equally lauded and derided as the most successful “real” composer alive, so it’s interesting to hear this thirty-eight-year old man reflect on just how far his career has gotten him to this point:

When we’re not being paid for concerts, we’re on unemployment. So that makes it, that’s the way things are now. Unemployment seems to have become a permanent fact of everybody’s life now…. We’re into the second year of unemployment….When we’re not getting paid a cheque for a rehearsal or concert, we get the unemployment. So if you figure it out, that comes to about, we get the maximum, which is 95 a week.