Bowie had moved to the East German capital in 1976, where he joined forces with Brian Eno over a triptych of albums to create a more experimental sound, bringing together aleatoric techniques (involving elements of chance), Krautrock influences and synthesizers.
Glass describes his Low Symphony, composed in 1992, as ‘a real collaboration’ between his music and the work of Bowie and Eno on the first album in the trilogy, released in 1977.
A few months after Bowie’s death in January 2016, Glass’ Heroes symphony became the first classical work to headline Glastonbury. Composed in 1996, the six-movement work responds to Bowie’s brooding Cold War album, out just seven months after Low, and its well-known title track.
Bowie liked the symphonic version so much that he used it as walk-in music at his live appearances, and according to Glass, privately superimposed his own vocals over the recording.
Bowie and Glass had discussed a third symphony, and now, finally, the work has been realised, in a Southbank Centre co-commission with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra.
PerformersLondon Contemporary Orchestra
RepertoirePhilip Glass: Symphony No.1 (Low)
The Clore Ballroom at Royal Festival Hall, 6.30pm – 7pm: pre-concert talk. Philip Glass discusses the composition of his Bowie Symphonies and his work in general with Gillian Moore, Southbank Centre's Director of Music. Free. You do not need to have a ticket for the evening performance to attend this talk.