Kyle Gann at The New York Times:
The “making” of a composer is the real subject of “Words Without Music.” Glass outlines his years before the successes of his operas “Satyagraha” (1980) and “Akhnaten” (1983) in loving detail; his life and work since then — including his film scores for Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Errol Morris and others — is skimmed through, with all-too-quick descriptions of the remarkable (and mostly nonfamous) people he has known.
One struggles to imagine how any human could have kept his schedule in the late ’50s and early ’60s: composing from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., loading trucks in the evenings, practicing piano several hours a day, attending classes, taking music and yoga lessons, going to movies and art exhibitions with friends, driving a motorcycle cross-country. Side stories feature cameos by figures one might not associate with Glass. He shared an apartment with the blind composer Moondog, who dressed as a Viking and played his compositions on the streets of Midtown Manhattan. And he recounts inventing the “Hardart,” a keyboard of toy instruments, for the fictional P. D. Q. Bach’s Concerto for Horn and Hardart, written by his Juilliard chum Peter Schickele — and making it a transposing instrument in the key of E so Schickele would have an added challenge.