Glass Sets Cohen's Poems to Music


Last Saturday night, the poetry of Leonard Cohen and the melodies of Philip Glass were featured in the New York City premiere of Book of Longing, a ninety-minute concert at Lincoln Center. Glass set to music twenty-two poems from Cohen’s collection of the same name, published by Ecco in 2006. While illustrations from Cohen’s book were projected behind them, an ensemble performed the chamber score, enhanced with instrumental and vocal solos, as well as interludes featuring recordings of Cohen reading his poems.

"I found Cohen’s work intensely beautiful, personal, and inspiring," Glass is quoted as saying on his Web site. Best known as a songwriter—his first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, was released in 1967—Cohen has published several collections of poetry, including Let Us Compare Mythologies (McClelland and Stuart, 1956), Flowers for Hitler (McClelland and Stewart, 1964), and Selected Poems 1956-1968 (Penguin, 1977). He has also published several novels, including Favorite Game (Viking Press, 1963) and Beautiful Losers (Viking Press, 1966).

Book of Longing was first performed in June at the Luminato Festival of Arts and Creativity in Toronto. The West Coast premiere will take place in October at Stanford University’s Memorial Auditorium in Palo Alto, California.

For more information, visit Philip Glass’s Web site at