Violinist Tim Fain on Philip Glass as Mentor

Friday, September 07, 2012

My first encounter with Philip’s music was as a boy, sneaking into the TV room late one night and sitting down with my parents to watch a documentary on the making of Einstein on the Beach. To my young ears the music was startling and seductive, and my family was quoting the “prematurely air-conditioned supermarket” bit for weeks afterward.

In my early 20’s I decided on a whim to accept a gig playing his first Violin Concerto, and that was it, I was hooked. Soon thereafter, I worked with Philip on a concert version of Einstein at Carnegie, and started touring with him on a piece called Book of Longing. In that piece following the moment where the whole stage went dark except for one spotlight and I ripped through a furious little movement, I kept coming off stage thinking how incredible the music was. I'd had no idea that Philip was writing music like that for solo violin! Eventually, while we were out on the road together, I twisted his arm to write me a piece, which, over the course of a year, turned into a the seven movement Partita.

In addition to writing me what I consider to be one of his finest and most personal works to date, Philip has been so kind to me in so many ways, a mentor, really. He’s one of the most generous guys in the business, and a great storyteller — hearing about his early days in his father’s record store, or partying in New York and working as a cab driver or plumber by day, and composing by night is thrilling. It really gets me about him that now at age 75 he still exudes that kind of around-the-clock sort of ebullience — I don’t claim to be a "short-sleeper" myself, but his energy is awfully contagious, and I thoroughly enjoy his company on the road.

I’m really blessed to know you, Phil, and honored to be an interpreter of you rmusic. Happy 75th birthday!!

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