September 17th, 2009
Building - Act IV. Scene I
Philip Glass
Einstein on the Beach

Philip Glass -Einstein On The Beach - Act IV. Scene I - Building

This is dated, a bit absurd. It is not unlike the rest of Einstein on the Beach, which, if I opt to consider critically, can seem a bit ridiculous and even gimmicky. Besides the fact its libretto, excepting a few pieces, is mostly solfège left in place from the composition of the music, there is the endlessness of it. About the briefer Glass opera Satyagraha, critic Henry Heidt said:

"…it is well named, as a deeply felt commitment to passive nonviolence on the part of the audience is required to sit through a full performance."

Indeed, Chris’ wife Alexi told me her mother broke up with a boyfriend who took her to see Einstein on the Beach, the five-hour exercise in mathematical-musical intricacies and trance-inducing acoustic manipulation evidently not working on her.

That said: I really like it anyway, even the saxophone that glides over the scrum of this piece. It might be my age -synth and sax tones aren’t necessarily ironic to me- or it might be that I feel a certain kind of cerebral hyperstimulation when I listen to it, my mind unified in attention but fragmented in chasing down disconnected harmonic tangents, and this piece in particular adds an odd element with the overarching melody moving between modes.

It often makes me think of scales and spaces: the vacuity of the atomic world and the vacuity of the universe and the teeming, vibrating density of the human perceptual world, nicely in the middle.

Update: Zombie Electroniq shares some excellent observations about Glass and the various critiques of his work here.

  1. charlieolvera reblogged this from buongiorno and added:
    While I couldn’t agree more with Amanda's contentions in the latter half of this quote, I do take some issue with the...
  2. lasaliente reblogged this from mills
  3. nudawn reblogged this from mills and added:
    i really liked this. this is going to sound incredibly trite after reading mills’ diatribe above but it reminded me of...
  4. buongiorno reblogged this from mills and added:
    Thank goodness for Philip Glass is all I can really say. I’ve encountered similar moments of doubt with my mother, in...
  5. tucker reblogged this from mills and added:
    My friend introduced me to “Einstein on the Beach” in… 10th grade, I think? Maybe 11th. I thought it was strange, but...
  6. mills posted this
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Hello! My name is Mills Baker. I write about art, culture, love, philosophy, memory, history, and more. Here are some relatively better posts. This site has been featured on Tumblr Tuesday and is listed in the Spotlight, but it pines for its youth as a coloring book. (Header lettering by the amazing Chirp).