Traditional summer reading usually connotes light, escapist fiction, but I have been escaping into the fascinating and challenging world of the creative arts. WORDS WITHOUT MUSIC: A MEMOIR celebrates the life of Philip Glass, the prolific composer. What an amazing story from his Baltimore childhood to world famous composer and dominant voice in 20th-century music. There is much technical talk about music in this book- many kinds of music- and about visual art, dance, theater, opera, travel, Buddhism, yoga, philosophy, history, literature, creative collaboration, and more. Glass barely supported himself and his family for years with construction jobs (he gives a detailed explanation of plumbing construction techniques, later used when he was sculptor Richard Serra’s assistant) and taxi driving. His opera, Einstein on the Beach was written after ten hour shifts driving a taxi in 1970’s New York City. His travels around Europe, Tibet, India were not luxury trips, but often involved makeshift hostels and last minute transportation. Everywhere he went, he enhanced his creative repertoire with new people, new ideas, new music, new philosophy. The more people he met, the more opportunities for ideas to emerge and art to be born. The range of Glass collaborators is astonishing.
I loved this escape into the life and mind of a truly gifted individual, whose music I plan to revisit with enhanced understanding.