Mad Rush - Philip Glass

Mad Rush - Philip Glass

Mad Rush is a 1980 solo piano piece composed by the American minimal music composer Philip Glass. It is often described as the most recognizable piece from Glass's post-minimalist repertoire and recognized as one of his most famous compositions.

History and Release of Mad Rush

Glass composed Mad Rush following a period of success that saw the release of his trilogy of operas for the theatre, including Einstein on the Beach. The piece was written in 1980 and played by Lama Tendar, an American Buddhist monk, who had been trained as a trombonist and piano accompanist. The piece is a serene but challenging solo keyboard work and was first performed at the John F. Kennedy Centre in Washington, DC in December 1980, as part of the composer's Glassworks tour.

Because of its popularity, the track was included on Glass's albums, Glassworks and Solo Piano in 1992. The piece was also featured on the album Music in Twelve Parts, which was released in 2004. Since then, it has been performed by many acclaimed pianists such as Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Keith Jarrett, Evgeny Kissin, Christopher O'Riley and other world-renowned musicians.

Simplified Analysis of Mad Rush

From a music theory perspective, Mad Rush is built upon a repeating melodic line of simple notes that gradually move up and down. This melody is the basis for the whole piece and serves as the main structure. After each iteration, the melodic line pauses for a moment and then returns, allowing the listener to appreciate the harmonic changes that occur throughout the track.

Philip Glass’s distinctive style of music is often labeled as minimalism, which can be seen in Mad Rush. Minimalism is characterized by gradual harmonic changes, repetition of musical elements, and focus on process rather than composition. By using these techniques in Mad Rush, Glass elevates the simple melodic line to an emotionally stirring piece of music.

Why Mad Rush is So Popular

Mad Rush has achieved wide recognition due to its unique sound and its incorporation of minimalism. It is a gentle but powerful piece that draws listeners in with its simplicity and depth.The piece has been covered by numerous musicians and featured in films, television shows and even video games, making it one of the most recognizable pieces of classical music today.

Mad Rush has also been noted for its emotive power. The hypnotic and meditative quality of the piece has made it popular amongst not only glass enthusiasts, but also those looking to relax and find peace in their day-to-day lives.


Philip Glass's Mad Rush is one of the most well-known and loved pieces of contemporary classical music today. Its simple yet powerful melody, combined with its incorporation of minimalism, has become an iconic representation of Glass's work. Its emotive power and hypnotic quality make it a favorite for those needing respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Publication date: 19. 02. 2023