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 Thursday, 9 January, 2003, 13:28 GMT
Glass invites Hollywood offers
Philip Glass talks about his new film The Hours and striving for Hollywood success
Philip Glass is considered an experimentalist
Oscar-nominated film composer Philip Glass says he wants to shed his "highbrow" image and work on more commercial films.

Speaking to BBC World Service's Arts In Action programme, he said he would "love" to work on blockbuster films such as Lord of the Rings, but has never had the opportunity.

"I am not asked to do these epic, mythic things. I am considered an art composer, I am considered a little bit too highbrow, but actually I am not highbrow at all."

Claiming that his intellectual image is "a total misconception", the American composer asserted that "the perception of me in Hollywood was that I wouldn't get involved in commercial films".

"But that simply isn't true," he added.


Following an Oscar nomination for his work on Martin Scorcese's film about the Dalai Lama, Kundun in 1998, Glass has worked with Hollywood producers on film successes including The Truman Show.

Nicole Kidman, The Hours
Nicole Kidman plays Virginia Woolf in The Hours.

Having previously written scores to accompany the texts of Samuel Beckett, he continues to write for the stage, but remains preoccupied with the movies.

His quest for screen success has recently led him to work on Stephen Daldry's second film, The Hours, which has seven nominations in the 2003 Golden Globes shortlist - including best actress nods for Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep.

The film straddles time as it explores Virginia Woolf's creative process. The film's score, Glass hopes, will pull the different plot lines together.

"The whole project was very cohesive, but without a score you weren't always sure about where you were," he explained.

"What I wanted to do was to make the music a bridge between the different time periods in the film so that the music becomes an architectural; a structural part of the film."


Celebrating his 25 years as a composer of soundtracks, a programme of four films commissioned by Glass is currently being shown at the Barbican theatre in London.

Discussing his ability to marry scenes with sounds, he told how his "music isn't glued to the image."

"The spectator finds a way to personalise it and in a way the spectator becomes my collaborator as you make up the connections yourself."

In the 1960's, following his work with the Indian musician and composer Ravi Shankar, Glass's work was famously described by a critic as "sonic torture".

This description, he believes, derives from his quest to change the conventional structure of music.

"When I listen to music I am not listening for mood or atmosphere," he explained.

"I hear it in terms of the language of music and I hear a grammar which is totally different.

Sometimes I feel that the ground is moving underneath my feet and I am suspended in air."

The Philip Glass interview is on the BBC World Service at 0805 GMT on Friday.

  Philip Glass talks to Arts In Action
"In the case of The Hours I was looking at the structure"
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