Philip Glass @ 80: A 24-Hour Birthday Celebration

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Philip Glass receiving a 2015 National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama

On Tuesday, Jan. 31 with an encore presentation Sunday, Feb. 5, Q2 Music celebrates the 80th birthday of Philip Glass with a 24-hour marathon of the legendary composer's music. The program is hosted by Phil Kline, who writes the following:

What can you say about Philip Glass? That he was the first or second minimalist you ever heard or heard of? That he’s one of the pillars of the '70s downtown scene? That he’s written 11 symphonies, scads of operas and film scores, that he’s one of the first composers to found his own ensemble, to start his own record label (three of them, in fact,) that he writes every day, seeming as unstoppable as the flow of the Amazon, probably has laid down more double bars than any composer since Telemann, has befriended, collaborated with, and/or helped more musicians and artists than anyone, that he gave birth to a sound that was once called (both with affection and derision) “deedle-deedle music?”

Or that he has given me great joy?

That when I was young, shy and newly-arrived in New York, I heard his ensemble practicing in a loft on Reade Street and, listening from the street below, knew I had come to the right place?

That when I did a show at my college radio station, he came up for an interview and was as nice and co-operative as could be? Or that in his adult life he has always lived in New York, is still right there, can be seen on the street, has always been a part of the community, musical and otherwise?

And that, like a few great ones, it’s almost impossible to imagine New York cultural life without him?

On Tuesday, January 31, his eightieth birthday, Q2 Music will celebrate by playing his music all day and all night, from midnight to noon, and noon to midnight. There will be string quartets, symphonies, selections from operas and films, and a mighty handful of iconic early works whose titles begin with the word “music.”

Watch Terrance McKnight interview Philip Glass live in the Greene Space at WQXR:


Watch a performance of Philip Glass's Einstein on the Beach: Knee Play 4 live in the Greene Space at WQXR: