Phillip Glass: Renowned Composer, Taxi Driver, Plumber (with Music)

Recently, guest contributor Sinnae Choi wrote about the popular, simplistic “Do What You Love” notion that devalues the very real need to make a living. Composer Phillip Glass was one of the examples she originally cited of artists who kept working even when they had gained some notoriety.  His story is so compelling, we extracted it to make into it’s own article:

In 2011, Glass was questioned about his day jobs as taxi driver and plumber. He recalls:

“While working, I suddenly heard a noise and looked up to find Robert Hughes, the art critic of Time magazine, staring at me in disbelief. ‘But you’re Philip Glass! What are you doing here?’ It was obvious that I was installing his dishwasher and I told him I would soon be finished. ‘But you are an artist,’ he protested. I explained that I was an artist but that I was sometimes a plumber as well and that he should go away and let me finish.”

As Clay Wirestone of Mental Floss describes, “Even after the premiere of his opera Einstein at the Beach at the Met in 1976, the 39-year-old Glass went back to driving a cab. He kept at it for the next three years.”

Glass worked his make-a-living-job while still making time for composing. Here’s Knee Play 5 from Einstein on the Beach, which Glass wrote while driving a cab.


Thanks Sinnae!

4 Responses to Phillip Glass: Renowned Composer, Taxi Driver, Plumber (with Music)

  1. C Lieberg 06.16.2014 at 7:35am #

    I greatly appreciate this article and these examples — for my own life and for the students in my writing classes. One detail — in an effort to preserve a desirable word — “notoriety” is for Al Capone and his ilk. Mr. Glass deserves the words with the positive spin.

    Thanks again.

  2. Sally 06.17.2014 at 1:17pm #

    Hmmmm…What do you think the right word would be?

  3. Paul 03.24.2015 at 9:22pm #

    You’ve already used in the headline: renown

  4. Sally 03.25.2015 at 9:49am #

    Sorry, I don’t follow. please explain what you are referring to.

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