Catapulting into Classical

A headlong leap into music, history, and composing

David Bowie and Philip Glass: The Low Symphony and Heroes Symphony


Music fans around the world are mourning the death of David Bowie today.  Perhaps less known is his connection with composer Philip Glass.  Glass used the music of David Bowie and Brian Eno in his Low Symphony and in his Heroes SymphonyLow and Heroes are the names of David Bowie albums, tracks of which were used in the symphonies by Glass.  Below are the original songs associated with the first movements of each of the symphonies (Subterraneans and Heroes; the preceding links are to Wikipedia articles).

Bowie: Subterraneans

(Here is a link to a live performance (1995) of Subterraneans performed by Bowie and Nine Inch Nails).

Glass: Low Symphony 1. Subterraneans

Bowie, Eno: Heroes

Glass: Symphony No 4 “Heroes” 1. Heroes.

Here are Bowie and Glass discussing their collaboration; see an article on the collaboration at Sinfini Music.

The Guardian has published a tribute to Bowie by pianist Stephen Hough.

With thanks to reader Louis B. for reminding me of this connection.


2 thoughts on “David Bowie and Philip Glass: The Low Symphony and Heroes Symphony

  1. Philip Glass never sounded so good. Thank you for this post, Chris. I feel so robbed today.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks, Chris! I liked big chunks of the symphonies, rather more than I expected to. Glass, perhaps because of the pop influences, has allowed himself to become less of a reductionist (sometimes ad absurdum, to my taste), and rather more linear and narrative and even (gasp) dramatic than usual, though still firmly rooted within his 19th century language. I can’t deal with the Bowie visuals personally (the total self-absorption and narcissistic self-infatuation seem to me to encapsulate what’s deeply disturbed and disturbing about western culture these days), but his music (and texts) are more interesting, arresting and original than most “pop” music, and I think the collaborations in fact produced some remarkably effective music, if in a somewhat Hollywoodesque manner. I have always rather liked Eno’s music- it’s “easy listening” and asks very little of the listener, but it’s sensitive, coherent, well-shaped and he clearly cares how it sounds.



    Liked by 1 person

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