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2017 | 7 | 157-173

Article title

Intertekstualne aspekty V Symfonii „Requiem, Bardo and Nirmanakaya” Philipa Glassa


Title variants

Intertextual aspects of Philip Glass’ Symphony No. 5 “Requiem, Bardo and Nirmanakaya)”

Languages of publication



The analytical method used in the text refers to the article by Ryszard Nycz, Intertextual Poetics: Traditions and Perspectives, in which he defines intertextuality as a category defining the construction and meaning of the text (work of art), making its creation and reception dependent on the presence of other texts and architexts. Philip Glass’ Symphony No. 5 “Requiem, Bardo and Nirmanakaya” is noted for the presence of numerous other texts and architexts. These are the ideas of Tibetan Buddhism and Hinduism, multiculturalism, the reference to the ideas of Romanticism, and to the oratorio genres. The relationship of the 5th Symphony with the ideas of Tibetan Buddhism is reflected, among others, by the use of the texts from The Tibetan Book of the Dead and Shantideva’s Bodhicaryavatara (A Guide to the Boddhisattva’s Way of Life). The connection with the Hindu tradition manifests itself in the use of the texts from the Rig Veda, the Bhagavad Gita, and The Vishnu-Purana. The multiculturalism of Symphony No. 5 is reflected in the use of literary texts taken from a number of different sources. The reference to Romantic style in the Symphony No. 5 is manifested in such features as: melodious vocal parts, neotonality, varied formal structures, predominant use of homophony, contrasting various types of expression in different movements, and the occurrence of great culminations. In the “macroform” of the work the idea of the three parts is highlighted, which binds it to the cyclical form typical of the symphony. As noted by R. Maycock (2002), the sequence of the three themes discussed in the symphony: (1) creation and pre-creation myths, (2) fundamental problems of life and death, (3) visions of apocalypse and paradise and reference to the future, is reflected in the three sections of the composition plan. The relationship with the oratorio genre is demonstrated by setting the piece in 12 vocal-instrumental movements and the important role of the choir.


  • Uniwersytet Wrocławski, Instytut Muzykologii


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  • Schwarz K. Robert, Minimalists, London 1996.
  • Swed Mark, Music Review: Glass Gives Salzburg a Millennial Masterpiece: Rapt audience thun-derously cheers the glorious 101-minute symphony [online], http://articles.latimes.com/1999/ aug/31/entertainment/ca-5227 (dostęp: 11.11.2016).
  • Taruskin Richard, Music in the Late Twentieth Century, (The Oxford History of Western Music, vol. 5), Oxford–New York 2010.

Document Type

Publication order reference


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