Symphony No. 1, I: Subterraneans

Two days ago, I posted a song by David Bowie (1947-2016) on the 74th anniversary of his birth. Today is the fifth anniversary of his death.

On Sundays since June 2020, I’ve been posting classical music pieces. Today, I’m sharing one that has a deep connection to Bowie’s music, written by American composer and pianist Philip Glass. 

Symphony No. 1, also known as the Low Symphony, is a three-movement work Glass composed in 1992, based on recordings Bowie made during the production of a 1977 collaboration with Brian Eno, Low. “Subterraneans,” the symphony’s opening movement, is Glass’s orchestral interpretation of the mostly instrumental closing track from Low.

As I’ve mentioned here before, in my post on a piece from his film soundtrack for The Hours (2002), Glass is a composer I first heard through his soundtrack for 1982’s Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance. The 1982 experimental film’s music was repetitive and staccato, a form the composer has become known for. While there are elements of those trademark “repetitive structures,” “Subterraneans” is also melodic in its representation of the synthesizer and sample-driven original from Bowie’s Low.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio from a 1993 recording of the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra, directed by Dennis Russell Davies, posted on the Philip Glass YouTube topic channel:  

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