Culture Night: Philip Glass Symphony No. 1 'Low'
Philip Glass Symphony No. 1 'Low'
National Symphony Orchestra
David Brophy, conductor
The 'Low' Symphony, composed in the spring of 1992, is based on the record 'Low' by David Bowie and Brian Eno first released in 1977. The record consisted of a number of songs and instrumentals and used techniques which were similar to procedures used by composers working in new and experimental music.
As such, this record was widely appreciated by musicians working both in the field of “pop” music and in experimental music and was a landmark work of that period. I’ve taken themes from three of the instrumentals on the record and, combining them with material of my own, have used them as a basis of three movements of the Symphony. Movement one comes from “Subterraneans”, movement two from “Some Are”, and movement three from “Warszawa”
My approach was to treat the themes very much as if they were my own and allow their transformations to follow my own compositional bent when possible. In practice, however, Bowie and Eno’s music certainly influenced how I worked, leading me to sometimes surprising musical conclusions. in the end I think I arrived at something of a real collaboration between my music and theirs. – Philip Glass