• Philip Glass
  • Symphony No. 4 'Heroes' (1996)

  • Dunvagen Music Publishers Inc (World)

From the music of David Bowie and Brian Eno

  • 2+pic.2.2+bcl.2/3.3.2+btbn.1/3perc/hp.cel/str
  • 44 min

Programme Note

'Heroes' Symphony, like The 'Low' Symphony of several years before it, is based on the recording of the same name made by David Bowie and Brian Eno in the late 1970s. During that period David and Brian were attempting to extend the normal definition of pop and rock and roll. In a series of innovative recordings in which influences of world music, experimental 'avant-garde' were used, they were re-defining the language of music in ways which can be heard even today.

Almost twenty years later, I went back to their original material, using it as a point of departure and inspiration, much as composers of the past have based their work on their contemporaries. Using themes from Heroes I made a new composition which I hoped would reintroduce this music to new listeners.

Twyla Tharp, the American choreographer with whom I had collaborated on the dance work In the Upper Room, suggested I think of Heroes as a ballet score for her new dance company. We suggested this to David, who immediately shared Twyla's enthusiasm for the Idea. Accordingly, I set Heroes as a six movement work, each movement based on a theme from the album, with an overall dramatic structure that would be suitable for dance. The result was a symphonic ballet - a transformation of the original themes combined with new material of my own and presented in a new dramatic form.

Philip Glass


Symphony No. 4 'Heroes'