A treasure island of piano music — Spiegel Online
The Grand Piano label continues to uncover gems of the piano repertoire. — Fanfare

GLASS, Philip (b. 1937)



  • Nicolas Horvath, piano

Two decades of musical evolution and discovery lie behind Philip Glass’ 20 Etudes. They explore a variety of textures, tempi, and techniques and distil intensely intimate personal statements to their purest elements. Providing new music for his solo concerts, they challenged and enhanced Glass’ own piano technique and also provided an unintended but compelling self-portrait of the composer.


Etudes, Book 1 (1996) (00:38:00 )
Etude No. 1 (00:03:35)
Etude No. 2 (00:03:03)
Etude No. 3 (00:03:54)
Etude No. 4 (00:03:27)
Etude No. 5 (00:04:19)
Etude No. 6 (00:03:15)
Etude No. 7 (00:03:51)
Etude No. 8 (00:05:43)
Etude No. 9 (00:02:11)
Etude No. 10 (00:05:19)
Etudes, Book 2 (2013) (00:45:00 )
Etude No. 11 (00:04:03)
Etude No. 12 (00:04:29)
Etude No. 13 (00:03:23)
Etude No. 14 (00:03:35)
Etude No. 15 (00:03:07)
Etude No. 16 (00:04:59)
Etude No. 17 (00:06:15)
Etude No. 18 (00:03:14)
Etude No. 19 (00:05:03)
Etude No. 20 (00:06:41)
Total Time: 01:23:26

The Artist

Horvath, Nicolas Recognised as a leading interpreter of Liszt’s music, Nicolas Horvath has in recent years become one of the most sought-after pianists of his generation. Holder of a number of awards, including first prize of the Scriabin and the Luigi Nono International Competitions, he frequently organizes events and concerts of unusual length, sometimes over twelve hours, such as Philip Glass’ complete piano music or Erik Satie’s Vexations, and composers from a number of countries have written for him. Nicolas Horvath is a Steinway artist.

The Composer

Philip Glass (b. 1937) discovered “modern” music while working as a teenager in his father’s Baltimore record shop. When he graduated with a master’s degree in composition from Juilliard in 1962, he had studied with William Bergsma, Vincent Persichetti and Darius Milhaud. His early works subscribed to the twelve-tone system and other advanced techniques. But in spite of some success (including a BMI Award and a Ford Foundation Grant), he grew increasingly dissatisfied with his music. “I had reached a kind of dead end. I just didn’t believe in my music anymore,” he said. A 1964 Fulbright Scholarship brought him to Paris, where he studied with Nadia Boulanger and met Ravi Shankar, the Indian sitar virtuoso. In their different ways, those two individuals transformed his work. Boulanger, in his words, “completely remade my technique,” and Shankar introduced him to “a whole different tradition of music that I knew nothing about.” He rejected his previous concepts and developed a system in which the modular form and repetitive structure of Indian music were wedded to traditional Western ideas of melody and simple triadic harmony.

After returning to the United States in 1967, he formed the Philip Glass Ensemble: three saxophonists (doubling on flutes), three keyboard players (including himself), a singer and a sound engineer. Embraced by the progressive art and theatrical community in New York City during the early 1970s, the Ensemble performed in art galleries, artist lofts and museum spaces rather than traditional performing art centres. It soon began to tour and make recordings, providing Glass with a stage on which to première and promote his ever-growing catalogue of works. It established him as a contemporary voice with something personal and thought-provoking to say, and since those heady early days he has never looked back. Although he has sometimes been labelled a “minimalist” along with composers such as Steve Reich and Terry Riley, Glass rejects the term.


“…Horvath performs the works…the way that Glass would like to himself. And there is hardly a higher compliment that one could pay to a performing musician.” – Fanfare

“Horvath applies a Romantic interpretation of the Études, which greatly emphasizes their expressive nature and brings the etudes to life.” – primephonic

“Not to slight Glass’s own considerable talents, but Horvath has a richer tone, and the Etudes really blossom under his fingers; as he plays them, there is no denying their place in the Etude tradition.” – Culture Catch

“[Horvath]’s a fine pianist with a virtuosic charisma and a thoroughly romantic view of these pieces. That’s perfectly appropriate… The approach works especially well in the extroverted 15, and Horvath’s formidable technique serves the much more minimal 10 just as effectively. On the more lyrical side of the emotional spectrum, Horvath’s fine use of rubato gives Etude 2 an expressive immediacy that other performances I’ve heard lack. ” – American Record Guide

“Nicolas Horvath, with precise playing and imaginative interpretation has made Glassworlds 2 an indispensable reference for the serious enthusiast as well as marking an important milestone in the evolution of the music of Philip Glass.” – Sequenza21.com

“The brilliant Lisztian-Rachmaninovian virtuosity that Nicolas Horvath brings to the cycle generates a good deal of bravado and even excitement. It makes of the Etudes a series of grand flourishes, of tumultuous outbursts that become something more than a sort of rote attention to the motifs would give you.” – Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review

“…Horvath can perform these etudes in a way that brings intense expression to their abstract qualities without ever overplaying his hand…that one can, indeed, listen to these twenty etudes in a single sitting as a “virtual concert experience.”” – Examiner.com