Glass, Philip (1937-)
Quartet n° 3 Mishima (1985)
Philip Glass’ string quartets may contain his most intimate music. They are works through which a very public composer, perhaps the most important opera reformer of our age and a longstanding collaborator in large-scale music theater, holds up a mirror to himself and his way of composing.
Glass’ String Quartet No. 3 is also adapted to dramatic music, this time from his score to the 1985 Paul Schrader film, Mishima.
The film, framed by the day of Yukio Mishima’s highly theatrical suicide, is a biography of the controversial Japanese writer with interspersed dramatizations of his novels. And for the three elements, Glass chose to write three different types of music: a large orchestra accompanies the novels; a string orchestra concentrates on the last day; but it is the string quartet that characterizes Mishima’s life and those in it (with the string quartet at the end merging into a string orchestra for Mishima’s death).
Again Glass found it natural that the string quartet should reflect the most personal aspects of the film. But despite specific connotations to the film music — themes for Mishima’s grandmother, his body building, his extremist right-wing advocacy — Glass says that he also conceived the string quartet sections, like the pieces of Company, as independent music that could stand alone as a concert suite.
Quartet n° 5 (1991)