Symphony No. 6 "Plutonian Ode"
Symphony No. 6
Plutonian Ode (2005)
Music by Philip Glass
Dennis Russell Davies, conductor
Lauren Flanigan, soprano
Bruckner Orchester Linz
Allen Ginsberg, libretto and recitation
Orange Mountain Music 0020
Symphony No. 6 was co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall and Brucknerhaus Linz celebrating Philip Glass' 65th birthday and the libretto is Allen Ginsberg's Plutonian Ode. The three movements of the symphony follow the three parts of the poem, and follow, also, the passage of the poem – the first movement a passionate outcry against nuclear contamination and pollution, the second a turn towards healing, and the final movement an epiphany arrived at through personal transformation.
PHILIP GLASS, born in Baltimore, Maryland, is a graduate of the University of Chicago and the Juilliard School. In the early 1960s, Glass spent two years studying in Paris with Nadia Boulanger and while there, was employed transcribing Ravi Shankar's Indian music into Western notation. Upon his return to New York, he applied eastern techniques to his own music. By 1974, Glass had created a number of innovative projects, writing a large collection of new music for his performing group, The Philip Glass Ensemble, and for the Mabou Mines Theater Company. This period culminated in Music in Twelve Parts, followed by the landmark opera, Einstein on the Beach in 1976. Since Einstein, Glass has expanded his repertoire to include music for opera, dance, theater, chamber ensemble, orchestra, and film. Glass continues to produce for diverse audiences. Recent film scores include Errol Morris' Academy Award winning documentary The Fog of War. In 2004 Glass premiered the new work Orion– a collaboration between Glass and six other international artists opening in Athens as part of the cultural celebration of the Olympics in Greece. 2005 marked the premiere of his Symphony No. 7 "A Toltec Symphony" performed by the National Symphony Orchestra.
DENNIS RUSSELL DAVIES was born in Toledo (Ohio) and studied at the Juilliard School, New York. After his tenure as Musical Director of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra he moved to Europe as General Music Director of the Stuttgart Opera, later the city of Bonn. In Austria he was Chief Conductor of the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra from 1997–2002, has held a conducting professorship at the Salzburg Mozarteum since 1997 and is currently Chief Conductor of the Bruckner Orchester Linz as well as Opera Director at the Upper Austrian State Theatre, the Landestheater in Linz.
LAUREN FLANIGAN Named by Time Magazine as "the thinking man's diva" and awarded by ASCAP and the Center for Contemporary Opera for her commitment to performing the works of living composers, soprano Lauren Flanigan has firmly established herself as a unique musical presence in the world today. She is one of the leading interpreters of the early operas of Verdi including Attila, Giovanna D'Arco, Nabucco, Macbeth, I Lombardi and La Traviata and has been featured on the telecast "Live from Lincoln Center" in performances of I Lombardi (opposite Luciano Pavarotti), The Richard Tucker Gala, Lizzie Borden and Central Park which was written for her. Her diverse concert repertoire has included Chants D'Auvergne and Il Signor Bruschino with Orpheus, Epiphanies, Mahler's 8th Symphony, Philomel, Cantata para America Magica, and Salome with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, Beethoven's 9th Symphony, The Heavenly Feast, and the world premiere of Symphony No. 6 "Plutonian Ode" written for her by Philip Glass and premiered with Dennis Russell Davies and the Bruckner Orchester Linz and American Symphony Orchestras.
THE BRUCKNER ORCHESTER LINZ is the state orchestra of the Austrian province of Upper Austria. The orchestra, with history and traditions stretching back 200 years has developed over the last three decades into one of the leading orchestras of Central Europe. With its 110 musicians, it is the opera orchestra at the Upper Austrian State Theatre, the Landestheater in Linz, and also the concert orchestra for the State of Upper Austria. Between its local concerts and international touring activity, the Bruckner Orchester Linz offers an exciting and varied repertory, ranging from early classical and baroque to the very modern.
The libretto is Allen Ginsberg's Plutonian Ode.
What new element before us unborn in nature? Is there a new thing under
At last inquisitive Whitman a modern epic, detonative, Scientific theme
First penned unmindful by Doctor Seaborg with poisonous hand, named for Death's planet through the sea beyond Uranus
whose chthonic ore fathers this magma-teared Lord of Hades, Sire of avenging Furies, billionaire Hell-King worshipped once
with black sheep throats cut, priest's face averted from underground mysteries in a single temple at Eleusis,
Spring-green Persephone nuptialed to his inevitable Shade, Demeter mother of asphodel weeping dew,
her daughter stored in salty caverns under white snow, black hail, gray winter rain or Polar ice, immemorable seasons before
Fish flew in Heaven, before a Ram died by the starry bush, before the Bull stamped sky and earth
or Twins inscribed their memories in cuneiform clay or Crab'd flood
washed memory from the skull, or Lion sniffed the lilac breeze in Eden—
Before the Great Year began turning its twelve signs, ere constellations wheeled for twenty-four thousand sunny years
slowly round their axis in Sagittarius, one hundred sixty-seven thousand times returning to this night
Radioactive Nemesis were you there at the beginning black Dumb tongueless
unsmelling blast of Disillusion?
I manifest your Baptismal World after four billion years
I guess your birthday in Earthling Night, I salute your dreadful presence lasting majestic as the Gods,
Sabaot, Jehova, Atapheus, Adonaeus, Elohim, Iao, Ialdabaoth, Aeon from Aeon born ignorant in an Abyss of Light,
Sophia's reflections glittering thoughtful galaxies, whirlpools of starspume silver-thin as hairs of Einstein!
Father Whitman I celebrate a matter that renders Self oblivion!
Grand Subject that annihilates inky hands & pages' prayers, old orators' inspired Immortalities,
I begin your change, openmouthed exhaling into spacious sky over silent mills at Hanford, Savannah River, Rocky Flats, Pantex, Burlington, Albuquerque
I yell thru Washington, South Carolina, Colorado, Texas, Iowa, New Mexico,
where nuclear reactors create a new Thing under the Sun, where Rockwell war-plants fabricate this death stuff trigger in nitrogen baths,
Hanger-Silas Mason assembles the terrified weapon secret by ten thousands, & where Manzano Mountain boasts to store
its dreadful decay through two hundred forty millennia while our Galaxy spirals around its nebulous core.
I enter your secret places with my mind, I speak with your presence, I roar your Lion Roar with mortal mouth.
One microgram inspired to one lung, ten pounds of heavy metal dust adrift slow motion over gray Alps
the breadth of the planet, how long before your radiance speeds blight and death to sentient beings?
Enter my body or not I carol my spirit inside you, Unapproachable Weight,
O heavy heavy Element awakened I vocalize your consciousness to six worlds
I chant your absolute Vanity. Yeah monster of Anger birthed in fear O most
Ignorant matter ever created unnatural to Earth! Delusion of metal empires!
Destroyer of lying Scientists! Devourer of covetous Generals, Incinerator of Armies & Melter of Wars!
Judgment of judgments, Divine Wind over vengeful nations, Molester of Presidents, Death-Scandal of Capital politics! Ah civilizations stupidly industrious!
Canker-Hex on multitudes learned or illiterate! Manufactured Spectre of human reason! O Solidified imago of practitioner in Black Arts
I dare your Reality, I challenge your very being! I publish your cause and effect!
I turn the Wheel of Mind on your three hundred tons! Your name enters mankind's ear! I embody your ultimate powers!
My oratory advances on your vaunted Mystery! This breath dispels your braggart fears! I sing your form at last
behind your concrete & iron walls inside your fortress of rubber & translucent silicon shields in filtered cabinets and baths of lathe oil,
My voice resounds through robot glove boxes & ingot cans and echoes in electric vaults inert of atmosphere,
I enter with spirit out loud into your fuel rod drums underground on soundless thrones and beds of lead
O density! This weightless anthem trumpets transcendent through hidden chambers and breaks through iron doors into the Infernal Room!
Over your dreadful vibration this measured harmony floats audible, these jubilant tones are honey and milk and wine-sweet water
Poured on the stone block floor, these syllables are barley groats I scatter on the Reactor's core,
I call your name with hollow vowels, I psalm your Fate close by, my breath near deathless ever at your side
to spell your destiny. I set this verse prophetic on your mausoleum walls to seal you up Eternally with Diamond Truth! O doomed Plutonium.
The Bard surveys Plutonian history from midnight lit with Mercury Vapor
street lamps till in dawn's early light
he contemplates a tranquil politic spaced out between Nations' thoughforms proliferating bureaucratic
& horrific arn'd, Satanic industries projected sudden with Five Hundred Billion Dollar Strength
around the world same time this text is set in Boulder, Colorado before front range of Rocky Mountains
twelve miles north of Rocky Flats Nuclear Facility in United States on North America, Western Hemisphere
of planet Earth six months and fourteen days around our Solar System in a Spiral Galaxy
the local year after Dominion of the last God nineteen hundred seventy eight
Completed as yellow hazed dawn clouds brightened East, Denver city white below
Blue sky transparent rising empty deep & spacious to a morning star high over the balcony
above some autos sat with wheels to curb downhill from Flatiron's jagged pine ridge,
sunlit mountain meadows sloped to rust-red sandstone cliffs above brick townhouse roofs
as sparrows waked whistling through Marine Street's summer green leafed trees.
This ode to you O Poets and Orators to come, you father Whitman as I join
your side, you Congress and American people,
you present meditators, spiritual friends & teachers, you O Master of the Diamond arts,
Take this wheel of syllables in hand, these vowels and consonants to breath's end
take this inhalation of black poison to your heart, breathe out this blessing from your breast on our creation
forests cities oceans deserts rocky flats and mountains in the Ten Directions pacify with this exhalation,
enrich this Plutonian Ode to explode its empty thunder through earthen thought-worlds
Magnetize this howl with heartless compassion, destroy this mountain of Plutonium with ordinary mind and body speech,
thus empower this Mind-guard spirit gone out, gone out, gone beyond, gone beyond me, Wake space, so Ah!
Allen Ginsberg July 14, 1978
© May King Poetry Music
Composed by Philip Glass. Conducted by Dennis Russell Davies. Lauren Flanigan, Soprano.
Performed by the Bruckner Orchester Linz. Recitation by Allen Ginsberg. The libretto is Allen Ginsberg's Plutonian Ode.
This Symphony is a commissioned work by Carnegie Hall, New York, and Brucknerhaus
Produced by Michael Riesman and Kurt Munkacsi. Recitation Disc produced by Don Christensen.
Recorded in the Brucknerhaus Linz, Austria. Produced with kind support of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation, ORF. Executive Producers – Dr. Heribert Schröder, Dr. Thomas Königstorfer, Bruckner Orchester Linz.
Mixed and recorded at The Looking Glass Studios by Michael Riesman, October and November 2004, March and May 2005. Vocal recording produced by Michael Riesman and Lauren Flanigan.
Mix Engineers: Dan Bora, Ichiho Nishiki. Assistant Engineer: Dave Perry. Studio Manager: Christian Rutledge.
Allen Ginsberg recitation edited by Ichiho Nishiki from a recording given
to Philip Glass by Allen Ginsberg. Executive Producers for Orange Mountain
Music – Philip Glass, Kurt Munkacsi and Don Christensen.
Allen Ginsberg photo: Fred McDarrah. Design: Frank Olinsky.
Special thanks to: Hubert Hawel of ORF, Cat Celebreeze, Zoe Knight, Jim Keller, Tim O'Donnel, Kara Bilof, Bob Rosenthal and the Allen Ginsberg Trust.
This work was commissioned in honor of Philip Glass' 65t h birthday by The Carnegie Hall Corporation and the Brucknerhaus Linz.
The world premiere was at Carnegie Hall, New York City by the American Composers Orchestra, Dennis Russell Davies, Music Director with Lauren Flanigan, soprano, on February 3, 2002. The European premiere was given at Brucknerhaus Linz by Dennis Russell Davies and the Bruckner Orchester on September 15, 2002.
Symphony No. 6 "Plutonian Ode" is published by Dunvagen Music Publisher Inc. (ASCAP).
P and (c) 2005 by Orange Mountain Music.