Composer Philip Glass hasn’t had any original ideas throughout the majority of his career (since about 1985), which hasn’t stopped him from becoming the most popular contemporary composer (just like it didn’t stop The Beatles). He has repeated the same themes, ideas, motifs – and in many cases exact phrases – for the past 20 years, ad nauseum. But if a non-classical-music listener were to jump into Glass’ work at any point, I’d recommend Symphony No. 5 (besides his String Quartets Nos. 3-5, his last important works). To a new Glass listener, Symphony No. 5 will sound amply fresh, and certainly as passionate and accessible as Glass always is.

Symphony No. 5 is a choral symphony that quotes from a variety of world scriptures: Tibetan Book of the Dead, the Koran, Hindu scriptures, Rumi, a Bulu creation story, Ecclesiastes, and more. The music pounds and soars and washes over you. It is very hummable and follows easy, vigorous rhythms. Whatever my opinion of the work as art, this is truly one of my most-enjoyed Glass compositions.

You can hear samples on the Amazon page.

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