The long-simmering feud between composers Philip Glass and Steve Reich appears to be approaching a happy resolution. Spokespersons for both composers, in a rare joint news release, announced that former president Bill Clinton is close to successfully brokering a resolution that will put an end to a bitter quarrel, nearly fifty years old, a quarrel that has its roots in the 1960’s when the two then-struggling composers collaborated with each other in the development of Minimalist music.
President Clinton, who counts among his many achievements the detente between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, has been quoted in the press as having found both Reich and Glass, when he met with each separately, “anxious and more than willing to put an end to all this grumbling and professional sniping.”
“I was able to bring about a lasting peace in the Middle East, so there’s no reason why we can’t get Phil and Steve together on the same page,” the former president proclaimed.
The roots of the controversy, according to Alex Ross’s “The Rest is Noise,” originate in a heated dispute over who is the original, authentic Minimalist and who is the “carpetbagger,” the “opportunist who stole my ideas and cashed in on them.”
“I’ve long said that Philip was the one who got there first,” said Mr. Reich, reached by telephone in his Westchester County home. “It was all his idea—the repeated cells, the regular, hypnotic pulse and the ravishing, tonal harmonies. But Glass just continues to deny deny deny.”
A Hellmouth reporter caught up with Philip Glass in Telluride, Colorado, where he is on a retreat with the Dalai Lama, Richard Gere and Alice Waters.
“Look,” said the ever-engaging Mr. Glass, “In the end the truth always comes out, just as the Buddha said. The founding father of Minimalism was Steve Reich—the whole world knows that. Finis. End of story. Sooner or later, Steve is going to have to come to grips with that.”
Mr. Glass reminded our interviewer that as a starving young composer he often drove the much more successful Reich around Manhattan in his Yellow Cab.
“Steve had a gig every night, and I had to hide my envy. There was always an adoring bunch of groupies waiting for him outside The Kitchen or BAM…whenever he played, while I had to hump all over town, driving that stupid taxi and hoping for a decent tip.”
So what will the great moment when the two composers finally shake hands and embrace one another actually look like? Our Hellmouth staff artists have done a composite rendering of the forthcoming historic detente. Clinton is in the middle. He is seen here congratulating the true founding father of Minimalism.
(artist’s rendering of forthcoming meeting)
Copyright © 2010 by John Adams
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