Sunday, March 08, 2009

I am not interested in repeating successes


'I don't mind repeating failures until I get them right, but I am not interested in repeating successes'.
Philip Glass explains his creative approach in an interview with Vicki Mackenzie in her book Why Buddhism? Martin Scorsese's celebrated 1997 film Kundun about the exile of the Dalai Lama, was scored by Philip Glass. The composer has been involved with Buddhist and Tibetan causes since the mid-1960s, and in conversation with Vicki Mackenzie he manages to nail the essence of Buddhism in one sentence -
'Funny isn't it? It turns out the pie in the sky is the same pie that's in your fridge'.
On 10 March 1959 an anti-Chinese and anti-Communist revolt erupted in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, which had been under Communist Chinese rule since the 1950 invasion. Protesters took to the streets of Lhasa on 12 March 1959 declaring Tibet's independence. Chinese and Tibetan troops moved into position over the next few days, and Chinese artillery was deployed within range of the Dalai Lama's summer palace, the Norbulingka.

On March 17, two artillery shells landed near the Dalai Lama's palace, triggering the flight into exile portrayed in Kundun. Open conflict began on March 19, including the shelling of the Norbulingka and Lhasa's major monasteries. Two days later the Chinese had suppressed the revolt. 86,000 Tibetans died in the 1959 uprising. Tibetan Uprising Day on March 10 commemorates these events every year. March 10 2009 marks the 50th anniversary of the continuing illegal Chinese occupation of Tibet.

Other composers influenced by Buddhism include John Cage, Jonathan Harvey, Lou Harrison and Edmund Rubbra.

Header image is of Philip Glass via Paint Shop Pro and is (c) On An Overgrown Path 2009. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

7 comments:

The Jesus Sufi said...

That is the best,funniest one sentence description of Buddhism I have heard.I heard this one about Christianity"It is the tale of one beggar telling another beggar where the bread is"...I simply love Philip Glass' work.My handicapped son likes Einstein on the Beach, and repeats the equations out loud while he plays...

Pliable said...

TJS, sometimes I wonder whether the path is wandering too far.

Wonderful and rewarding comments like yours reassure me that it isn't.

As do the extraordinary readership figures that this and similar posts are achieving.

Philip said...

I don't even know what you mean by wandering too far, Pliable. I prefer to think of the path as meandering through a garden in the English style, where the greatest delights are come upon hidden in the thickets and behind the hollyhocks. This post was of especial interest, given the proclivities of my own thought -- I must read more about Rubbra, for I have missed something there.

Pliable said...

Philip, thanks for that - hollyhocks and all!

On the current provisional schedule there will be more on Rubbra late tomorrow evening (Monday). Meanwhile I do recommend his Fifth Symphony (what is it about Fifth Symphonies?) if you don't know it.

This is the work that introduced me to Rubbra. The other evening I listened again to the 1978 Chandos recording by Hans-Hubert Schonzeler and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra.

Wonderful music and wonderful performance, and it is available from the Chandos website for £4.88.

http://www.chandos-records.com/details06.asp?CNumber=CHAN%206576

Pliable said...

Rubbra trivia -

1. Toscanini performed Rubbra's Brahms Variations (an orchestration of Brahms' Variations on a Theme of Handel) in January 1939 with the NBC Symphony in New York. The performance for radio was also issued as a commercial disc.

2. Sir Adrian Boult chose Rubbra's Second Symphony as one of his Desert Island Discs) in 1979. He was the dedicatee of the work!

Philip said...

Many thanks for these tips, Pliable. I have neglected Rubbra, so there is a large lacuna to fill here. I have a link to the Naxos Music Library, whereon all the symphonies from Hickox on Chandos, as also the Australian performance of the Fifth and Jarvi with the LSO in the Brahms/Handel Variations, so already I have made a start. Boult's desert island choice made me curious, so I started with that and enjoyed it. The fact that I'm a Sibelian would rather explain that, and would certainly explain why I was quite bowled over by the Fifth -- twice, as I listened to both recordings. The Handel Variations with Jarvi is coupled with the Schoenberg arrangement of the G minor Piano Quartet. I've never liked the Schoenberg and thought the Rubbra far better, certainly truer to Brahms. I must say, though, that I shall go back to Jarvi's performance of the Schoenberg because what he gets up to with the last movement, much helped by the recording, is hilarious. Made me chuckle. And now, the rest of Rubbra's symphonies await. I'm rather curious as to what else Sir Adrian had on that list of his.

Pliable said...

Philip, I have listed Sir Adrian's Desert Island Disc choices in a separate article -

http://www.overgrownpath.com/2009/03/desert-island-diversion.html