Philip Glass wins $100,000 Glenn Gould award

Philip Glass wins $100,000 Glenn Gould award


norman lebrecht

April 14, 2015

You wonder what Gould would have made of his piano music. Press release follows.



Toronto, ON (April 14, 2015) – American composer Philip Glass has been chosen as the Eleventh Glenn Gould Prize Laureate.  Through his operas, symphonies, film scores, compositions for ensembles, and wide-ranging collaborations with artists from many disciplines, Philip Glass has had an extraordinary impact on the musical, artistic and intellectual life of his times.

“Our jury has made a brilliant choice in selecting Philip Glass,” said Brian Levine, Executive Director of The Glenn Gould Foundation.  “At the start of his career his music was seen as radical and even derided for being contrary to the prevailing musical current, but his work advanced solidly until it permeated our cultural consciousness; it has exerted a profound influence on a whole generation of composers, filmmakers, dramatists and opera directors.  In his work and life, he reveals himself to be a man of deep spirituality and conscience as reflected in the themes of his operatic creations and film scores. We are honoured to present the Prize to an artist of such originality, conviction and vision.”

“I am very pleased to be the winner of the Eleventh Glenn Gould Prize.  It is for me a special honor as I am one of the many musicians who have been inspired by him.  Glenn Gould’s name is associated with a lifetime of excellence in music interpretation and performance.  Also I am aware that this award places me in the company of some of the most celebrated names in the broad spectrum of the music of our time. It is, therefore, with great pleasure that I accept this award,” stated Philip Glass.

philip glass

The prize has been doubled to C$100,000 (US80,000). Past winners include Robert Lepage (2013), Leonard Cohen (2011), Dr. José Antonio Abreu (2008), Pierre Boulez (2002), Yo-Yo Ma (1999), Oscar Peterson (1993) and Yehudi Menuhin (1990)


  • AnnBell Brown says:

    Great news! Glass is truly a unique and talented professional. His autobiography, “Words Without Music” was recently released. I ordered my copy from Amazon. It’s a wonderful read!

  • John Borstlap says:

    This seems to be an offence against Gould’s heritage.

    • Mikey says:

      Once Glass moved away from 10 minutes of arpeggiated C major chords, he actually HAS written a few pieces that are of interest. I’ve never been a great fan of his particular type of minimalism, but there is something of a certain value there nonetheless.

      Now, whether it’s $100,000’s worth of value is another discussion.

      I can think of a number of far more worthy composers. And I can think of a few Canadian composers who would equally fit the bill.

      • Steve Schindler says:

        Please list them!

        Have they written three film scores nominated for the Academy Award for best score?
        Or a piece as influential as Einstein on the Beach?
        Sell out concert halls worldwide?
        Been on Saturday Night Live?
        Written a masterpiece like Koyaanisqatsi, La Belle et la Bete, Powaqqatsi, The Photographer, Les Enfants Terribles…..I can keep going here.

        • Erick Vázquez says:

          Wow! He was on Saturday Night Live? He must be a great composer then! I hope next year Usher gets it.

        • Mikey says:

          Have you listened to the film scores that get nominated for “best film score”? Quite honestly, it means absolutely nothing. This year’s winner was the score to The Grand Budapest Hotel, and it was the most banal, trite, repetitive trash possible (sadly, the same composer had other FAR better works out this year, which were not nominated)…

  • Chris Walsh says:

    Well, they routinely award the Turner prize to people who can’t paint.

  • Alex says:

    Philip Glass is worth millions. Why does he need this award?

    Do they realize how far $100K could go towards supporting artists in Canada?

    What is the point of handing out this kind of cash to international superstars who don’t need the money and don’t have any particular connection to Glenn Gould or even to Canada?

    What an absurd, shameful organization.

    • Hilary says:

      Well said. In addition, Gould hated music like this. He preferred counterpoint!
      Having said that, I’m very fond of a number of his compositions, not least some of the earlier pieces like Glassworks. The first piece is heart wrenching.

  • Gisbert says:

    Hmm, I was under the impression that such an award would go to a) an actual composer, and b) one of some originality. I’d say Lady Gaga has more originality than Glass, so perhaps this price should have gone to her first (note that I have no interest in Lady Gaga!). Writing the same stuff by the acre agian and again might be rewarded the price for best selling trash in classical music…
    I will listen to some Louis Glass (a real composer!) tonight!

  • Boring Fileclerk says:

    In all fairness, Gould did attempt to play Glass. Fast forward to 4:54:14 or so…..