"Autobiographies of great nations are written in three manuscripts – a book of deeds, a book of words, and a book of art.
Of the three, I would choose the latter as truest testimony." - Sir Kenneth Smith, Great Civilisations

"I must write each day without fail, not so much for the success of the work, as in order not to get out of my routine." - Leo Tolstoy

I have never believed that one should wait until one is inspired because I think the pleasures of not writing are so
great that if you ever start indulging them you will never write again. - John Updike

"The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour
is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it." - J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Philip Glass - The Collection

Philip Glass - Violin concerto 3rd movement

Philip Glass - The Hours

Philip Glass - Morning Passages

Philip Glass - The Opening (1982)

Philip Glass - On Track of Life

Philip Glass - Choosing Life

Philip Glass - Dead Things

Philip Glass - The Kiss

Philip Glass -The Poet Acts

Philip Morris Glass (born January 31, 1937) is an American music composer. He is considered one of the most influential composers of the late 20th century and is widely acknowledged as a composer who has brought art music to the public (along with precursors such as Richard Strauss, Kurt Weill and Leonard Bernstein).

More Soundtracks - http://www.youtube.com/artist/Philip_Glass?feature=watch_video_title

Official Website - http://www.philipglass.com/bio.php

More Information - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_glass

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Philip Glass (300)
Barron Claiborne
Composer Philip Glass prefers to call his compositions
"music with repetitive structures" rather than "minimalist."
October 3, 2008 - The music of Phillip Glass elicits an array of opinions. Some love it; some don't. Some just don't get it. When he sat down to talk with Morning Edition host Renee Montagne about a new 10-CD retrospective of his work, he said that last reaction was true of some of his early music.
"This is what people used to call the needle-stuck-in-the-groove music," he says. "Events happen in the music but rather more slowly than you're used to. So it was like taking a microscope and looking at something very close up and you'll see things that you never would have seen before. That happens to music when you slow down the rate of change. The music isn't slow but the rate of change is slow."

Just Don't Say Minimalism

Glass never liked the term. He prefers to call his compositions, "music with repetitive structures." His Web site explains his early work as "based on the extended reiteration of brief, elegant melodic fragments" that "immersed a listener in a sort of sonic weather that twists, turns, surrounds, develops." But the term minimalism stuck.

Glass chuckles when he remembers a concert in the Bronx in the early '70s. "There was a bunch of young people there and one guy said, 'What do you call this music mister?' And I said, 'I don't know. What do you call it?' And he said, 'I call it Buddha Rock.' And it was hilarious — some young guy in the Bronx, this is what he heard."

In fact, Glass got to meet and work with the giant of Indian music — Ravi Shankar — while Glass was in Paris studying with Nadia Boulanger (who also taught Aaron Copland and Astor Piazzolla, among many others). Glass had studied at the University of Chicago and at the Juilliard School of Music in New York. But his dissatisfaction with what he was hearing sent him to Europe. When he returned to New York in 1967, he formed the Phillip Glass Ensemble.

Glass told Montagne that audiences back then used to say of the ensemble, "You guys can't play." But he says, "It takes a tremendous amount of discipline and concentration to do this kind of music."

The critics weren't very nice either. But Glass says it didn't seem to matter. "Though we were vilified by certain parts of the press, at the same time we got huge amounts of attention. Without that kind of [critical] reaction I doubt that we would have had the kind of public we ended up with. People got curious about us. If it was so bad, what was it?!"

Growing Up With Music

Glass was born and grew up in Baltimore. His father, Ben, had a little record store. The composer says it was one of only two stores in the city where you could buy classical music. Phillip Glass and his brother worked in the store — unpaid — from the age of 12.

"We were there when Elvis Presley first came out," Glass remembers. "It was an amazing period. Music began to change very rapidly about that time. My father was a very interesting guy. When a record didn't sell, he would take it home to listen to it to find out what was wrong with it. And what happened, he would listen to these things until he learned to like them. And he became an expert on contemporary music at that time just through listening to records. And he passed that on to me and he passed it on to as many customers as he could. He would press these records on his customers and say, 'Take this home and listen to this.' He was a wonderful guy."

Phillip Glass was also fascinated by science as a kid. Albert Einstein, he says, "was the first time that a scientist became a real rock star. What I liked about it was that I saw the scientist as a kind of a poet."

When Einstein was asked how he came up with the theory of relativity, Glass says, "He would say, 'Well I imagined myself on a beam of light traveling through the universe at the speed of light and I tried to describe what I would see.' And the theory of relativity is the description of what he thought he would see. So he was like a dreamer, a poet."

Einstein became the subject of Glass' first opera, Einstein on the Beach. "The structure of the music I was writing then," Glass says, "was very much about the simple manipulation of numbers."

Other operas followed — more than 20 of them, including, Satyagraha, Akhnaten and The Voyage. Glass has composed eight symphonies, concerti for piano, violin, and saxophone quartet. He's written for film, including the sonic landscape he created with filmmaker Godfrey Reggio, Koyaanisqatsi. And he's collaborated with choreographer Twyla Tharp, poet Allen Ginsberg and rocker David Bowie.

A fraction of that work is included in the new 10-CD set, Glass Box. The composer says it's a good introduction to his work then stops himself. "Introduction? Ten CDs? That's enough. That'll keep you busy."

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Interview: Philip Glass on making music with no frills
June 29, 2007

As Philip Glass turns 70, he tells michael church how a radio-repairman's son became the world's most popular classical music iconoclast, and what inspired him

Philip Glass has just turned 70. While the smart musical world queues up to celebrate him noisily in New York and London, he himself is giving discreet recitals of his solo piano music. Last week in Portugal, next week in Lichfield: an unobtrusive affirmation of what it is that makes him tick. But this is very much his style. At a time when his fame hit the heights with Einstein on the Beach (1976), he went back to earning his living as a cabbie, and found himself being asked by a well-dressed New Yorker – who had read his licence-plate – if he realised that he had the same name as "a very famous composer".

At five hours long, with no intermission, but with an invitation to the audience to wander in and out at will, Einstein had redefined the rules of opera; with a sung text consisting entirely of numbers and solfège syllables, it had no formal plot. With his score for Cocteau's La Belle et la Bête (1994) Glass went on to redefine film music: his singers and instrumentalists performed live in front of a backstage projection of the film, whose characters silently mouthed their words. Glass's tendency to subvert his audiences' expectations was nicely exemplified by his response when a man leapt up on stage and joined him for a jam at the keyboard, during a solo piano performance in Amsterdam: Glass punched him with one hand while continuing to play with the other.

This won't happen in well-behaved Lichfield, where the audience may sense the event's importance for the composer. "The piano is the instrument I play when I get up in the morning, and last thing at night," he observes, disarmingly. "These concerts are the most intimate musical experience I ever have. They represent my whole mission as musician and composer – those moments when it's just myself, my music, and an audience. Here the whole cycle, the whole transaction, is complete."

How does he rate himself as a pianist? "Quite decent. I mean, you wouldn't want to hear my Schubert or Beethoven, but I'm not hired to play that. I really like listening to composers playing their own music – say Gershwin or Rachmaninov. Though Rachmaninov was a great pianist, Gerswhin was probably the kind of pianist I am. Not a virtuoso, but because it was his own music, it's very beguiling."

The programme he'll play in Lichfield spans 25 years of creativity, and will reflect his enduring preoccupations. Metamorphosis (1998), a sequence of movements written in his hallmark repetitive style, grew out of incidental music he wrote for Kafka's play of that name, but it also weaves in themes from his soundtrack to Errol Morris's documentary The Thin Blue Line (1988), which proved the innocence of a man found guilty of the murder of a Dallas policeman. Another piano piece is drawn from his collaboration with the Gambian "griot" musician, Foday Musa Suso. Mad Rush – which is crazy on the surface, but has a gentle underlying pulse – was originally performed by Glass on the organ, to mark the Dalai Lama's first public address in New York; Tibet now looms large in the composer's life. "The Fourth Knee Play" is one of the "knee plays" that gnomically punctuate Einstein, while a movement from Satyagraha (1980) – the opera given its London premiere this year, three decades since its conception – will reflect his obsession with Mahatma Gandhi.

Next week Glass will be celebrated at the Almeida Festival with a performance by the Smith Quartet of his complete string quartets. These may be shot through with his usual motoric repetition, but that doesn't prevent them evoking other worlds. When I tell him I can hear Bartók's quartets in the shimmering carillons of the Fifth, he comfortably replies that he can, too: "I was very happy to allow his influence to enter my life, though you wouldn't mistake my music for his. But string quartets have always played a special role in my life as a composer. There wasn't much chamber music in Baltimore, but my father was a great lover of it, and I listened to it a lot with him on records. Schubert's B flat Piano Trio was a big influence."

Following in the footsteps not only of Bartók but also of Schoenberg and Shostakovich, Glass has made the string quartet his own most intimately personal medium; in his fourth quartet, composed in memory of the artist Brian Buczak, who died of Aids in 1988, his slowly-turning musical kaleidoscope works a gracefully subfusc spell. His second, originally designed to fill the silences in a staging of Beckett's prose poem "Company", reflects a soliloquy in the face of death; Beckett approved.

Glass's grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Lithuania and Russia; his father, Ben Glass, ran a radio repair shop, in which he also sold records. Young Philip worked there after school, thus getting an early sense of music as a business: it was no surprise that he should become one of the first composers to set up his own record label – indeed, he has set up three of them to date. How Glass developed from these humble origins to a point where he could conquer the concert hall, the opera house, and the worlds of dance and film – winning a devoted following across the generations – is a story that speaks volumes about Western culture today.

Having begun studying the violin at six, followed by the flute at eight, he started composing at 12. At 14, he precociously won a scholarship to Chicago university, where he chose to major not in music but in mathematics and philosophy; in his spare time he learned to play the piano works of Ives and Webern. He dabbled in 12-note music, but discarded it when he went to study at the Juilliard School, where he shared classes with his friend and minimalist rival Steve Reich, and where he became a model student. The best he could say, later on, about his Juilliard compositions was that, "they were written by somebody else. I don't think that it's worth V C anybody's time to bother with that music. If I could get those pieces back from the publisher, I would."

In Manhattan he hung out with the radicals: at one of Yoko Ono's loft concerts in 1961, he witnessed a stunt by the composer La Monte Young that blew his mind: "He wasn't playing music, he was just drawing a line." What was it about this avant-garde maverick? "His playfulness," Glass replies, "doing events that were theatrical, and hardly music at all. Like his piece called Feeding the Piano – bringing in a bale of hay and placing it by the instrument, leaving it there for a while, then picking it up and walking away. If we didn't have such bizarre people, it would all be too serious."

From the Juilliard, Glass moved on to study in Paris with the fearsome Nadia Boulanger: she terrorised him, but she did also introduce him to the contrapuntal delights of Monteverdi and Palestrina. This was a time when Boulez and his serialist friends were riding high in Paris. "I was impressed by their accomplishment, but I didn't go for it. There didn't seem any point in following them down that road. They made me look for a new direction." And, right on cue, along came the encounter which was to shape his music ever after: with Ravi Shankar.

Glass got himself employed as the sitar maestro's assistant, but stayed to worship at his shrine. "He gave me another way of looking at music – he opened the door to things that were unknown to me. A music based on rhythmic and melodic structures, with no harmonic structure whatsoever – but as I'd studied that with Mademoiselle Boulanger, I wasn't lacking in that department. Without meaning to, they complemented each other, and set me off on a completely different track."

In his memoir Music by Philip Glass, he describes how the light dawned when he was working in the recording studio with Shankar and his tabla colleague Alla Rakha: "Ravi would sing the music to me, and I would write it down, part by part... The problem came when I placed bar lines in the music as we normally do in Western music. This created unwarranted accents... Alla Rakha caught the error right away. No matter where I placed the bar line (thereby dividing the music in the regular Western style), he would catch me. 'All the notes are equal,' he kept piping at me. Finally, in desperation, I dropped the bar lines altogether. And there, before my eyes, I could see what Alla Rakha had been trying to tell me. Instead of distinct groupings of eighth notes, a steady stream of rhythmic pulses stood revealed." This steady stream of pulses became Glass's compositional trademark, and he has regularly recharged his musical batteries in India ever since.

Much has been made of Glass's Buddhism, but he's at pains to point out that he only dipped a toe in it. "I'm not a card-carrying member of anything," he insists. "You have to understand I'm a thoroughly Western person. But I'm also a modern person, which means that world culture has come to me from all sides. I've accepted huge swathes of it which my parents would never have known about." Here he understates: it was the singing of the Gyuto monks that gave his soundtrack for Martin Scorsese's Kundun (1997) its haunting power, and his Tibetan collaborations are continuing, with a benefit concert for Tibetan refugees soon to take place in New York. Work after work proclaims how ingrained his Buddhist instincts now are.

Glass used strenuously to reject the label which everyone pins on him – "minimalist" – but he's given up the struggle: "I don't resist it any more, because it's pointless to. It's stuck. And I think it is a fair description of the music written between 1965 and 1979. And it did serve to differentiate us very emphatically from the Boulezians, which wasn't a bad thing. I always wanted to speak to a broader audience than the cognoscenti. I just wanted to get out of the new-music ghetto, where the same 200 people went from one concert to another, and most of them were composers. I and my friends were looking for audiences in the art museums and theatres – it was a generational thing. And what was amazing was how quickly that audience appeared. By 1976 I was performing at the Met, after just nine years. Steve Reich said all along that that was going to happen, while I thought it would take decades. He was right, I was wrong."

Reich and Glass played in each other's bands, but a chill arose, with Reich claiming that his more famous colleague had obscured his compositional debt. "In 1967 the giver was me and the recipient was Glass," he said bitterly. When I ask Glass if they might collaborate again, he gives an oblique reply: "We played together in the Seventies, because in those days people like him and me and Meredith Monk were a small group of radical revolutionaries. We helped each other, but as we each became more successful, we got too busy to spend much time together."

Next week in New York, Glass will premiere his Book of Longing, in which he has set the poems of Leonard Cohen in a classical-rock-jazz extravaganza for singers, instrumentalists, with the voice of Cohen himself; and when the Barbican presents Glassworks, its three-day homage to the composer in October, that work will form part of it. Meanwhile, Glass is readying his American Civil War opera Appomattox, with its libretto by the British playwright Christopher Hampton, for its San Francisco launch in the same month. "I find myself more and more drawn to theatre works which are not so much politically as socially oriented," he says, "works about the way the world is put together."

In his view, Satyagraha, his Sanskrit opera on Gandhi's South African years, exemplifies this perfectly. "I would never do an opera about a great dictator," he told a Coliseum audience earlier this year. "I'm not into making fancy gravestones for people who murder millions." He also gave a nicely provocative creative credo: "Operas aren't history, they're poetry. They don't have to tell the truth."

The case against Glass is that his pursuit of big audiences has turned his music bland, and that he has settled for a facile musical formula; the case for him is that he is a ground-breaker, an inventor, and an iconoclast. But if you listen to those regular pulses and thrummingly repeated chords, there are other notes and harmonies lurking in the atmosphere above: an implied musical world, quite different from that which is explicit in the score. And that is what is really clever.

Philip Glass, Lichfield Festival, Lichfield Cathedral (01543 412121), 5 July; Glass String Quartets, Almeida Opera 2007, Almeida Theatre, London N1 (020-7359 4404) 15 July

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Philip Glass: 'I think I'm built for this kind of life.
I train like an athlete'

The world's most austere composer drove taxis until he was 42.
He reveals how his fastidious life informs his music

By Christina Patterson
May 22, 2009

When I told a friend I was interviewing Philip Glass, he gave me some advice. "Just ask him," he said, "the same question, again and again and again." It's a view that once gave rise to a New Yorker cartoon. Two men in pith helmets are standing in a jungle. "That," says one to the other, ear cocked to a distant rumble, "is either a dissonant, repetitive sound or a new Philip Glass piece."

Getty Images. "The idea that artwork consisted
of a transaction is the essence of postmodernism.
Before that we thought it existed in some Platonic
realm." - Glass
After several weeks washing up to Philip Glass, and cooking to him, and going to sleep to him, I can testify that those repetitions do strange things to the brain. Famously hypnotic, the shimmering scales and arpeggios are also quietly relentless, veering between the beauty of a waterfall, or of waves crashing on a beach and – well, you wouldn't want to talk about water torture, but let's just say that sometimes you long for a nice little tune. The most prolific composer on the planet, and one of the most successful, creator of more than 20 operas (all with pretty weird titles), eight symphonies, numerous concertos for violin, piano and timpani, and more than 30 film scores (including, most famously, The Hours) sure as hell knows how to mess with your mind.
"So why do they send a poet, rather than a musician to meet me?" he asks, when I volunteer, perhaps unwisely, my woeful lack of musical knowledge. I'm not a poet, alas, but we've been talking about Rumi, one of a number of poets Glass has set to music. Others include Allen Ginsberg and his friend, and fellow Buddhist, Leonard Cohen. For a moment, I fear that I've unleashed some rather un-Buddhist irritation, but then Glass softens. "If someone's not interested in it academically," he says kindly, "you could be better off. People get distracted by all sorts of non-essential things. Schools of music and historical values. It doesn't really explain what you're listening to."
We're sitting in the basement bar of The Boundary, a super-hip new "project" in a Victorian warehouse in the East End. With its stripped brick walls, black and white photos and funky leather armchairs, it has something of the feel of a New York SoHo loft, the kind in which, you imagine, Philip Glass might have spent happy evenings knocking up genre-bending works with Laurie Anderson, say, or David Byrne, or Brian Eno. Because Glass, more than any other contemporary composer, has worked across the art-forms – in theatre, dance, opera, the visual artists and rock. He has pushed the boundaries of music, pushed the boundaries of cross-arts collaboration, pushed the boundaries of opera and, at 72, is still pushing boundaries now.

He has, as always, been up since six. Last night, as usual, he went to bed at one. And after our strict hour, he's dashing off to catch a train. How does he keep going? "Well, you know," he says, "I think I'm built for this kind of life. It doesn't bother me at all. I train," he adds, "like an athlete, in terms of exercise, diet and sleep. I do yoga. I also do Qigong. I've been doing it since I was 20." And is he, as I've read, a vegetarian? "Since I was 20." And does he drink? "Just a glass of wine, maybe three times a week."

Gosh. This friend of David Bowie and Lou Reed, who lived in Paris in the Swinging Sixties, and discovered Ravi Shankar before the Beatles, clearly lives like Gwyneth Paltrow. "You say I'm disciplined," he says, as I mentally tot up my own weekly tally of units, "but I think I'm not disciplined. My discipline is that I'm afraid of not being disciplined." Er, right.

Maybe it's an American thing. Americans, I say, are good at doing things like going to the gym before work. "My girlfriend does," he volunteers. "She runs and does pilates." Is his girlfriend Wendy Sutter? "Yeah," he says, "but she doesn't... she likes to be called my girlfriend, but she is also an artist in her own right." Wendy Sutter (whose date of birth is coyly absent from all her publicity material but who looks several decades younger than Glass) is indeed an artist in her own right. She is the cellist who inspired Glass's Songs and Poems for Solo Cello, some of which Glass will perform with her next week, in an evening of chamber music at the Barbican.

The Songs and Poems were hailed by The Washington Post as "not merely pleasant, but gripping" and by Bloomberg.com as "the first major solo cello work of the 21st century". And they are exquisite – plangent, fierce, passionate, full of yearning and aching with what could be joy or pain. They reminded the San Francisco Classical Voice (and me) of the Bach cello suites. Were they a conscious homage to Bach? "Oh yeah," says Glass. "The cello is often remarked as the instrument that's closest to the human voice, in that it's the instrument that mimics the range. It kind of plunges you into the interior of what an individual psyche must be like."

Well, if all that aching beauty has anything to do with spirituality, or personal pain, or his feelings about Sutter, Glass (who has been married four times) is clearly not about to give anything away. So I ask about his father, who set the whole thing off, in his radio repair and record shop in Baltimore in the Forties. "Some paper in England said my father was an immigrant," says Glass. "He'd have been shocked. He never left the country. His parents did come from Russia or Belarus, or some place like that." "Some place like that"? If his parents were, as Glass says, "totally Americanised", so, it seems, is their son, who appears not to have bothered even to find out where his grandparents came from.

Still. At the age of eight, inspired by his father's love of music, Glass started learning the violin and the flute. "I had to take a streetcar across town by myself," he says, "and I had to walk home in the dark. But I was the youngest one at the conservatoire and they looked after me." At home with his parents, he listened to music "all the time. "One of the great things about my father," he says, "was that he had to know all about music because his customers liked all different kinds. He preferred chamber music, central European and he liked modern music: Bartók, Shostakovich. He never told me that one was better than another. In fact, there was a kind of enforced democracy."

High, low, classical, modern, chamber, orchestral – he sounds like a bit of an early postmodernist. He sounds, in fact, like someone whose son might also end up embracing an astonishing range of musical genres, and art-forms, and producing work (operas, symphonies, songs for cello) that might be classified as high art and work (film scores, jingles for commercials) that might be classified as low art. Does he have this father to thank for this? "Yeah," he says. "He didn't know much about world music, but no one did. On the other hand, I learned a lot about jazz when I was a kid, and I was going to school in Chicago by the time I was 15. The Fifties in Chicago was a great time for jazz."

At 15, Glass fails to mention, he was actually an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, studying mathematics and philosophy. It was there he started learning the piano and there, too, that he started composing, because he wanted to find out "where music came from". At 20, he went to study composition at the Juilliard School of Music (where Steve Reich was a fellow student) and then enrolled in a composer-in-residence scheme for two years in Pittsburgh schools. In 1964, he moved to Paris to study with the composer Nadia Boulanger and in 1967 moved back to New York where he founded the Philip Glass Ensemble. Looking at his CV from this time on, it would be tempting to say that the rest is history, but artistic output, as so often in life, did not automatically translate into money.

Glass didn't earn a living from his music, in fact, until he was 42. Until then, he drove cabs, shifted furniture and worked as a plumber. "I was careful," he explains, "to take a job that couldn't have any possible meaning for me." Stories of famous-composer-actually-working-man-shock from that period abound. The art critic Robert Hughes was astonished to find the avant garde composer mending his dishwasher. On another occasion, a woman tapped on the side of his cab and told him that he had the same name as a "very famous composer".

Gradually, the commissions trickled in and, by the time Glass was 44, he realised that the cab driver's licence that he'd renewed as a precaution might not be needed. Einstein on the Beach, his music theatre collaboration with Robert Wilson, performed at the Met in 1976, was followed by Satyagraha, an opera which drew on the early life of Mahatma Gandhi, and then by Akhnaten, a vocal and orchestral composition sung in Akkadian, Biblical Hebrew and Ancient Egyptian. Clearly, we are not talking populist. On the other hand, Glass was soon reaching a mass audience with his film scores. His first, for Koyaanisqatsi, directed by Godfrey Reggio, is still regarded as one of his best. Others include Kundun, The Truman Show and Notes on a Scandal.

What effect has the film work had on him? "It has made me very happy," says Glass with a rare burst of laughter. "The high-art music and commercial, they're different metiers, they're different languages. I'm like the painter," he adds with a grin, "who does abstract painting at home but likes to go to the sidewalk and do sketches of people in the street."

Among the many artists Glass has worked with – ranging from Doris Lessing to Patti Smith and Woody Allen – it's one he didn't actually meet who has, perhaps, had the greatest influence on his work. In 1963, when he was living in Paris, Samuel Beckett was "in the neighbourhood". Glass "didn't have the pleasure of knowing him" but wrote music for his work. "To me," he says, "he represented the quintessential postmodernist. He took away the meaning of a work and made it meaningful. It's a perfect John Cage strategy, in that he denied the independent, inherent existence of the artwork. It had no existence independent of the person that listened to it. The idea that artwork consisted of a transaction, that's the essence of postmodernism. Before that, we thought of string quartets as existing in some sort of platonic realm."

"It was extremely encouraging for me," adds this super-disciplined, super-serious, super-productive model of can-do Americanism, "because it meant that the community of critics and historians, it left them out of the picture. I knew from the beginning that what they had to say would have very little impact on what I did." And then Philip Glass, high priest of postmodernism, looks at his watch. "Now," he says, "I have to catch my train."

Philip Glass: Chamber Music is at the Barbican, London EC2, on 26 May at 8pm (www.barbican.org.uk). The first Prom devoted to his work is on 12 August