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Words Without Music

Philip Glass

The long-awaited memoir by ‘the most prolific and popular of all contemporary composers’ (New York Times)

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The long-awaited memoir by ‘the most prolific and popular of all contemporary composers’ (New York Times)

Rapturous in its ability to depict the creative process, Words Without Music allows readers to experience that sublime moment of creative fusion when life merges with art. Biography lovers will be inspired by the story of a precocious Baltimore boy, the son of a music-shop owner, who entered college at age fifteen, before traveling to Paris to study under the legendary Nadia Boulanger; Glass devotees will be fascinated by the stories behind Einstein on the Beach and Satyagraha, among so many other works.

Whether recalling his experiences working at Bethlehem Steel, traveling in India, driving a cab in 1970s New York, or his professional collaborations with the likes of Allen Ginsberg, Ravi Shankar, Robert Wilson, Doris Lessing, and Martin Scorsese, Words Without Music affirms the power of music to change the world.

Martin Scorsese on Words Without Music:
‘I came to Philip Glass’s music very simply, without any critical prodding or guidance. I listened and I was transfixed. The music was dynamic and colorful and mysterious all at once, and it put me in mind of the Zen exercise of sitting before a blank wall and contemplating the question, “What is this?” It’s music that seems to go beyond music. It doesn’t just stay with you, it infuses and energizes and haunts you, and carries a sense of being alive, a perception of existence itself, the rhythm of living this life. Philip’s music has come to mean more and more to me as the years have gone by.
I was excited to work with Philip on Kundun, and he exceeded my wildest expectations by giving us a score that was genuinely transcendent. He’s exceeded my expectations again with this rich and beautifully written memoir. Who knew that he was as good a writer as he is a composer?’

Critic Reviews

Wonderfully illuminating ... Big-hearted and open-minded, this irresistible memoir helps to show how Glass has channelled and transformed the sounds of our time.

Boyd Tonkin, The Independent
Critic Reviews

This elegantly written, funny and sometimes very touching memoir.

Richard Morrison, The Times
Critic Reviews

In his long-awaited memoir, Glass weaves together personal and creative epiphanies with all the intricacy you'd expect.

Things We Like, NME
Critic Reviews

An unpretentious and often funny account of the life of a remarkable man.

The Economist
Critic Reviews

[The] story of an amazing journey, borne along by some of the most powerful currents in contemporary art.

Adam Lively, Sunday Times
Critic Reviews

Glass's style of writing is devoid of pomposity or fake intellectualism. Words Without Music is informal, chatty and self-aware ... an amiable and entertaining book.

Richard Fairman, Financial Times

Born in Baltimore in 1937, Philip Glass studied at the University of Chicago and the Juilliard School. The composer of operas, film scores, and symphonies, he performs regularly with the Philip Glass Ensemble and lives in New York.

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