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Publisher's Summary

The long-awaited memoir by "the most prolific and popular of all contemporary composers." (New York Times)
A world-renowned composer of symphonies, operas, and film scores, Philip Glass has, almost single-handedly, crafted the dominant sound of late twentieth-century classical music. Rapturous in its ability to depict the creative process, Words without Music allows listeners 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 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.
BONUS FEATURE: Includes “Etude No. 2,” written and performed by Philip Glass.
©2015 Philip Glass. “Etude No. 2” by Philip Glass © 1999 by Dunvagen Music Publishers, courtesy of Orange Mountain Music (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Brian E. Scanlan on 05-20-15

Treat Yourself, Accompany Audiobook with Music

Excellent memoir, how much greater would it have been though had it incorporated his music? Worth the time, though. Enjoy.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By CHET YARBROUGH on 05-02-16


“Words without Music” is a memoir of Philip Glass’s transformation to creative adult. This is a journey taken by every child–with greater and lesser degrees of actualized creativity. Glass explains how love by others transforms his life and why self-actualization is the fountain of creativity. This is certainly not a new revelation. Socrates, through the words of Plato, characterizes self-actualization with the dictum of “know thy self”. Self-actualization is explained as the penultimate goal of life by Abraham Maslow.

Glass’s journey is symbolized by his dissection of the works of Jean Cocteau; i.e. particularly La_Belle_et_la_Bête (Beauty and the Beast). Glass argues that Cocteau’s works are about human creativity and transformation. The symbolism in La_Belle_et_la_Bête is the story of Glass’s life. The rose in Cocteau’s movie symbolizes beauty (Glass’s body of work). The key is the method (Glass’s mother). The horse is strength, determination, and speed (Glass’s father). The glove is nobility (Glass’s renown as a composer). The castle is a prison that can only be escaped with love from another (Glass’s three wives, his children, his mentors, and friends). The Mirror symbolizes who you truly are (this memoir of Glass’s life).

This is a nicely written and narrated memoir of Philip Glass; considered by many as the most influential composer of the late twentieth century.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Charles Lyall on 07-30-17

Fascinating. An entertaining and insightful autobiography.

This was a truly compelling listen. Not just an autobiography of the composer but a real sense of time, place and mood. It presents a really vivid account of a social and cultural melting pot at a time of great change in the arts in general. The narration by Lloyd James is superb.

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