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Watch: Philip Glass reflects on his early life as a struggling musician

Now one of the world's most celebrated artists, the composer made ends meet with stints as a taxi driver and removal man.

By Rose Slavin (Former Assistant Content Producer)

29 January 2017 at 10.05am | 1 Comment

‘Moving furniture wasn’t so great! But that’s a common story – I was lucky that I could quit my day job when I was 41, a lot of artists go on longer than that.’

During the filmed interview with BBC Radio 3 Presenter Clemency Burton-Hill, which was recorded at the Royal Opera House in 2014, Glass recalls his early years as an up-and-coming artist in New York, where he scraped a living working as a plumber, removal man and cab driver.

The Koyaanisqatsi and Einstein on the Beach composer also explains how he thinks society has become worse at supporting artists, declaring, ‘Artists in our progressive society are treated like bakers.’

Glass believes that up-and-coming musicians and writers have to be resourceful in the ways they get their work seen, despite the lack of funding for the arts.

‘At my first concert I had six people in the audience and one of them was my mother,’ he jokes. Despite his music being known across the globe, and loved by millions, he says he never measured his success by numbers, but by the reaction of people that heard his music:

‘I thought I was a successful composer when I had an audience of 30!’

Watch more films like this on the Royal Opera House YouTube channel:

This article has 1 comment

  1. Very interesting Interview, big compliment that the Artists in Londen are so much creative in finding jobs to survive the period till they can live from their Art. Must say that in the beginning Glass Music was also too Minimal for me. May be basicly it was there and by getting used to it, his Music start to be New Art of Music Making.

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