Glass and Reich: End of a Bitter Feud

Apr 24, 2010

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)

Comments (19)

April 24, 2010

satire with no point seems rather silly. is there a point here? perhaps there is, but it is lost to me.

Phillip Golub
April 24, 2010

Yet another hilarious satire, John. I felt like I was reading "The Onion for Composers" (which would, of course, be my paper of choice if it existed...).

April 25, 2010

If Glass and Reich were Microsoft and Apple, you John might be their Google.

Mixed Meters
April 25, 2010

April 25, 2010

Little known fact: WNBC New York briefly flirted with hiring Steve Reich as their weatherman in the 1970s.....

April 25, 2010

Is this a joke? Though I could possibly picture President Bill Clinton resolving an old dispute such as this... Mr. Adams, it would be great if you could take that role as the president bringing the two rivalries together at last...

April 26, 2010

Here's another angle on who may have founded minimalism: listen to J.S. Bach's Canon trias harmonica (BWV 1072), an eight-part canon in contrary motion.

("Everything of importance has been said before by someone who did not discover it." A.N. Whitehead)

April 26, 2010

Can you make Helmut Lachenmann and Hans Werner Henze friends too?

Alex S
April 27, 2010

Another interesting account on the origins of minimalism is given by Robert Fink, who argues that it reflects a post-WWII American society of consumers, mass media, and production.

April 28, 2010

Oh I laughed ... and laughed.. !

Jonathan Savage
April 29, 2010

Knock Knock.
Who's there?
Knock Knock.
Who's there?
Knock Knock.
Who's there?
Knock Knock.
Who's there?
Knock Knock.
Who's there?

It used to be Steve Reich, but I'm not sure now?

Anymore musical knock knock jokes out there?

April 30, 2010

the prophet LMYoung will not be happy~

May 4, 2010

My amateur chorus sang a "Knock knock" piece as our encore at our recent concert. It was written by one of our members, Stephen Bent, and got a great reaction from the audience. PG makes an appearance, SR does not. I'm sure it will eventually be available on our website,, but it's not up yet.

Steve Glassfan
May 8, 2010

Let's face it: John Adams is jealous of the incredible genius, versatility, and genius of Philip Glass.

May 8, 2010

But did Steve ever try & buy a loaf of bread?

May 8, 2010

Smoke Monster
May 18, 2010

Terry Riley? La Monte Young?

Remember: Founders come first, then profiteers.

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