Blogging 'Einstein'

Philip Glass's Masterwork, Minute by Breathless Minute

Lucie Jansch

By Eileen Reynolds

Published September 21, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 7 of 8)

–:–: Black, empty stage. The big white bar is lying horizontally on the ground. What’s this? Some fabulous new organ lick — drones on the bottom, with fast moving notes on the top. Sounds like any of the great organ preludes. You can really tell that, even if he rejected it all later, Glass studied counterpoint. I keep coming back to Bach. Does it really sound like Bach, or is it just that it’s an organ? I LOVE this. Oh! The white bar is lifting up on the left side. How long has it been doing that? When it reaches an angle of about thirty degrees, the man from the couple to my left sneezes twice, in time with the music. The left end of the big white bar continues its ascent. It is blinding but I can’t keep my eyes off it. It finally reaches vertical.

–:–: Down in the pit, one of the chorus girls — the one who liked the conch — starts singing into the microphone, “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah.” Her voice is lower, richer than I expected. She’s looking up at the balcony behind me. Has the conductor moved up there? One of the organ notes sounds out of tune. Is that possible? Do electric organs go out of tune? Has the Philip Glass Ensemble been using the same ones since the 1960s? The white bar of light starts rising upward. We are transfixed. When the light is gone and the girl stops singing, the audience whoops like she’d sung a Puccini aria.

!!:!!: OH MY! All the automatons are at work on this giant, three-level matrix of bright lights. They’re scurrying all around, plugging this in here, that in there. With their backs to us, they all look the same in those white shirts and suspenders. There is a clock rising out of hell, with green smoke. Oh, the clock is in a glass casket! The little boy is inside! It’s moving up, up, up, vertically, with his hands clasped in prayer! Here comes another glass casket, from stage right, with a woman inside, moving across the stage horizontally! The music is so busy I can’t think! The coffins are going to collide! No, whew, one is actually behind the other. The slim gal from the first train scene is marching back and forth again, only this time, there’s also someone next to her with flashlights doing that land-a-plane dance. Einstein is here but not playing. Organ organ organ, loud loud loud. The voices seem to be coming from everywhere — from behind me. Is some of the chorus up in the balcony? Einstein starts his scale-exercise thing again. I finally notice that the musicians — saxophonist, organist, the whole lot of ‘em — are in the big matrix thing, too. Someone is saying something about tickets.

–:–: Okay, the curtain is down and Einstein is out front. He’s playing alone. No, the organ is doubling his line. No, there are organ sounds coming out of his violin. I can’t tell anymore! Behind him, a small white rocket is slowly making its way up, travelling diagonally across the stage at a 45-degree angle. It reminds me of the little boy’s paper airplane, but it might be a missile. It’s being pulled on a wire, so its movements are all herky-jerky, not smooth.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.