Timo Andres: Tiny Desk Concert To mark Philip Glass' 87th birthday, the astute pianist Timo Andres stops by to play a contrasting pair of the composer's popular etudes.

Timo Andres: Tiny Desk Concert

It's a longstanding tradition for musicians to leave a small something-or-other on the thoroughly disorganized wall of "stuff" that backdrops our Tiny Desk. My favorite is the Johann Sebastian Bach bobblehead.

But now, move over Bach. Here comes Philip Glass.

When Timo Andres arrived at our office to play a pair of etudes by Philip Glass, the director of Glass' publishing house, Adrienne White, tagged along and generously donated the only remaining Philip Glass bobblehead to NPR — an appropriate gesture to mark the composer's 87th birthday on Jan. 31.

The wiggly statue depicts Glass standing at one of his trusty Farfisa organs, an instrument associated with the early days of his career when he played intricate patterns over and over in his SoHo loft, as fans and fellow musicians, like Laurie Anderson, laid on the floor and let the music wash over them.

Much of Glass' music can have that transforming, mesmerizing effect, including these two etudes. They are opposite twins from a set of 20, pieces Glass wrote over a two-decade span, beginning in the early 1990s. Andres knows the music intimately — he helped edit and design a gorgeous new folio facsimile of the sheet music.

With Etude No. 6, Andres combines sewing machine precision with a deep feeling for Glass' melodies, stitching together delicate arpeggios and thundering chords. Etude No. 5 is, by contrast, a meditation in slow motion. A see-sawing rhythmic idea sets the foundation for a journey wherein time seems to stand almost still while the spaces between the notes speak volumes.


  • Philip Glass: Etude No. 6
  • Philip Glass: Etude No. 5


  • Timo Andres: piano


  • Producer: Tom Huizenga
  • Director/Editor: Maia Stern
  • Audio Technical Director: Neil Tevault
  • Series Producer: Bobby Carter
  • Videographers: Maia Stern, Kara Frame
  • Audio Engineer: Phil Edfors
  • Production Assistant: Ashley Pointer
  • Photographer: Elizabeth Gillis
  • Tiny Desk Team: Joshua Bryant, Hazel Cills
  • Executive Producer: Suraya Mohamed
  • Series Creators: Bob Boilen, Stephen Thompson
  • VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins