Philip Glass – Sons of the Silent Age [From the symphony “Heroes”] (1997)

“Heroes,” like the “Low” Symphony of several years ago, is based on the work of David Bowie and Brian Eno. In a series of innovative recordings made in the late 70’s, David and Brian combined influences from world music, experimental avant-garde, and rock’n’roll and thereby redefined the future of popular music. The continuing influence of these works has secured their stature as part of the new “classics” of our time.

Just as composers of the past have turned to music of their time to fashion new works, the work of Bowie and Eno became an inspiration and point of departure for a series of symphonies of my own.

As I have been involved with the world of dance for many years I naturally mentioned the “Heroes” Symphony to the American choreographer Twyla Tharp. Straight away she wanted “Heroes” for her new dance company, and soon after, we met with David. He immediately shared Twyla’s enthusiasm and I found myself writing a symphonic score shortly to become a ballet.

I’ve taken six tracks from the original Bowie / Eno recording and made each of them the basis of a dance work. By combining these themes with original music of my own I ended up with a six movement work which is symphonic in scale and, at the same time, serves the dramatic purpose of Twyla’s ballet. The result, hopefully, will be as enjoyable for the listener at home as well as a new dance work for the stage.

– Philip Glass, New York city, 1996.

Philip has put more of himself in this new album, but the irony is that I believe that he’s actually put his finger on more of my original voice. Hearing this material is a bit like being introduced to a brother or sister that you’ve been told you had, and you weren’t really aware of their existence. And when you do meet them, obviously the very familiarity of the family features registers, but there’s a whole life and all these things have grown up without your knowledge.The music has characteristics that I immediately recognize, but it has its own life. It has nothing to do with me. It’s had all these experiences that I didn’t know about. It really runs the gamut of emotions, from deep despair in “Neuköln” through to that upward spiraling of “V2 Schneider,” and those two particularly for me capture really what I was trying to do. It really excited me. It was though Philip had fed into my voice…but somehow had arrived, I feel, a lot nearer to the gut feeling of what I was trying to do.

– David Bowie.

Music composed by Philip Glass.
From the music of David Bowie and Brian Eno.
Performed by The American Composers Orchestra.
Dennis Russell Davies, principal conductor.
Michael Riesman, associate conductor.
Produced by Kurt Munkacsi and Michael Riesman for Euphorbia Productions, Ltd.
Executive producers: Kurt Munkacsi, Philip Glass and Rory Johnston.
Associate producer: Stephan Farber.
Recorded at The Looking Glass Studios, NYC.
Engineered by Rich Costey.
Assistant engineer: John Billingsley.
Art Direction: Gordon Jee
“Sons ot the Silent Age” written by David Bowie 1977
All films used in this video are the work of Auguste and Louis Lumière.


One response to “Philip Glass – Sons of the Silent Age [From the symphony “Heroes”] (1997)”

  1. Its an absolute favourite of mine. The beauty and brilliance of the song is at the same time heart aching an full of hope.

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