Philip Glass’ “Mad Rush”: Time is Relative

A happy birthday to the American composer, Philip Glass, who turns 83 today.

In the meditative minimalism of Glass’ 1979 keyboard work, Mad Rush, time becomes relative. The piece was originally conceived as being of “indefinite length.” It was performed on the occasion of the Dalai Lama’s first public address in North America at New York’s Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. Later, it was used to accompany a ballet by Lucinda Childs. The piece took on the ballet’s title, Mad Rush. 

In some ways, Glass’ entire compositional output, with its frequent oscillating arpeggios, gradually unfolding structures, and sensual embrace of tonality, can be heard as one vast, continuous piece. Mad Rush is a glistening labyrinth of interlocking rhythms and competing “grooves.” The opening bars provide a fascinating example of two-against-three, something we hear in other music by Philip Glass. Somehow, amid the bright, colorful overtones of the organ, magical “new” pitches seem to emerge as a result of this combination.

Here is the original version for organ, performed by Donald Joyce:

 Openings and closings, beginnings and endings. Everything in between passes as quickly as the blink of an eye. An eternity precedes the opening and another, if not the same, follows the closing. Somehow everything that lies in between seems for a moment more vivid. What is real to us becomes forgotten, and what we don’t understand will be forgotten, too.

-Philip Glass

Recordings

  • Glass: Organ Works, Donald Joyce Amazon
  • Bruce Brubaker’s 2015 recording of the version for piano

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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