Pardon me while I blow my own horn a bit:
Three years to the day after the death of David Bowie, two eminences of American music will come together in Los Angeles to pay tribute. John Adams is set to conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the premiere of Philip Glass’s Symphony No. 12, “Lodger,” at Walt Disney Concert Hall on Thursday. The work is inspired by Bowie’s 1979 collaboration with Brian Eno and the producer Tony Visconti, the final album in what’s usually called their Berlin trilogy, which also includes “Low” and “Heroes,” both from 1977. Mr. Glass’s First Symphony, back in 1992, was based on “Low”; his Fourth (1996), on “Heroes.”
I first encountered both Phil and John -- musically and personally -- in San Francisco, during my years (1977-81) as music critic on the Examiner. When I moved to New York to work at Time Magazine, I wanted to champion their cause of a new kind of tonal music that deliberately stuck its thumb in the eye of the then-prevailing Darmstadt School of 12-tone music.
ADAMS The thing I remember most vividly is a tour of the ensemble doing excerpts from “Einstein on the Beach,” which I heard in San Francisco sometime in the 1970s. Then I actually conducted quite a bit of his music — a little piece, “Facades,” and then I think we did the very first performance of parts of “Akhnaten” in L.A. on a Phil program, 50 minutes’ worth. I did the Ninth Symphony, again with L.A., and then this.
I came of age during what we now call the bad old days, when the world said you had a choice between European modernism and its American version, or Cagean aesthetics. Hearing Philip’s music and Steve [Reich’s] music was this wonderful, new possibility of a language that embraced both tonality and sort of living with a pulse, new, original and fresh.
GLASS I’m astonished at the size of audiences I’m getting now. I never thought that this music would be accepted in the way it’s being accepted. I had my first performance with the New York Philharmonic when I was 80 years old. I mean, come on!
Two great American composers. All success to them.