Philip Glass
American composer
Philip Glass
Philip Morris Glass is an American composer. He is often said to be one of the most influential composers of the late 20th century. His music is also often controversially described as minimalist, along with the work of the other "major minimalists" La Monte Young, Terry Riley and Steve Reich. He has distanced himself from the "minimalist" label, describing himself instead as a composer of "music with repetitive structures.
Biography
Philip Glass's personal information overview.
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News
News abour Philip Glass from around the web
9 Artists Honor the Man Who Put Brooklyn on the Map
NYTimes - 12 days
Philip Glass, Mark Morris, Laurie Anderson and others remember Harvey Lichtenstein, who revived the Brooklyn Academy of Music and died on Feb. 11.
Article Link:
NYTimes article
Philip Glass Celebrates His Birthday with a World Premiere at Carnegie Hall
Huffington Post - 19 days
By Christopher Johnson, ZEALnyc Contributing Writer, February 8, 2017 Well, folks, he did it: Philip Glass had his big birthday bash at Carnegie Hall on January 31, and he blew out all eighty candles. Not that there was actual cake--if they'd had a cake big enough to feed a house that size, packed with well-wishers, there wouldn't have been room onstage for the Bruckner Orchester Linz, at full strength and in fine fettle, nor for its chief conductor Dennis Russell Davies, never better and ready to party. Still, the program was the traditional three-layer affair, comprised of the New York premières of Glass's Days and Nights in Rocinha, his luscious tribute to Rio de Janeiro and its samba school, and Ifé: Three Yorùbá Songs, his collaboration with the great Beninese singer-songwriter and activist Angélique Kidjo, topped off with the world première of his Symphony No. 11. As icing on the cake, Davies and the Bruckner Orchestra delivered performances at once rich and tangy, befit ...
Article Link:
Huffington Post article
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra Is 'Electrifying' at Carnegie Hall
Huffington Post - 20 days
By Joshua Rosenblum, ZEALnyc Contributing Writer, February 7, 2017 On February 4 at Carnegie Hall, the famously conductorless Orpheus Chamber Orchestra presented a performance of Tchaikovsky's beloved Violin Concerto with a twist: the soloist Vadim Gluzman played the piece on the actual instrument that inspired the composer to write the piece. The violin in question was owned at the time by Leopold Auer, who was the concertmaster of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. Tchaikovsky wrote the piece for Auer to premiere, but the violinst, according to legend, declared the difficult work to be unplayable, and though he eventually warmed to it, Tchaikovsky didn't live to hear him perform it. Gluzman, the current proprietor of the very same 1690 Stradivarius, can no doubt give a spectacular rendition of the piece on any instrument, but these special circumstances turned this performance into something resembling a holy ritual. The audience was rapt as Gluzman drew dark, rich, opulent soun ...
Article Link:
Huffington Post article
Philip Glass Discusses His Eleventh Symphony Before His 80th Birthday Celebration
Huffington Post - 21 days
By Christopher Johnson, ZEALnyc Contributing Writer, February 6, 2017 On January 26th, Carnegie Hall announced the appointment of American contemporary composer Philip Glass to the Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair for the 2017-2018 season. And last week Glass celebrated his eightieth birthday with the world première of his Eleventh Symphony at the hall on January 31. Just before this momentous occasion, Mr. Glass spoke with me about the Eleventh, about its première, and about his long, fruitful and happy relationship with Dennis Russell Davies and the Bruckner Orchester Linz. ZEALnyc: Are there things that you particularly want people to know about the new symphony? PG: I think it should be interesting that this relationship with the orchestra has gone on for a long time. Dennis Davies has been the conductor there for fifteen years, and I've done a number of symphonies with them. I've developed a relationship with an orchestra that any composer would envy, and that ...
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Huffington Post article
Barenboim is Brilliant Leading the Staatskapelle Berlin in Bruckner and Mozart
Huffington Post - 24 days
By Joshua Rosenblum, ZEALnyc Contributing Writer, February 3, 2017 Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin are performing all nine Bruckner symphonies over the course of nine evenings at Carnegie Hall, coupling each symphony with a Mozart piano concerto, led by Barenboim from the piano. Night six (January 25) of this historic Bruckner cycle--unprecedented in this country--meant Symphony No. 6 in A major, plus Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 22 in E-flat major. The Sixth is rarely performed--the last three are the most popular. Some have even referred to it as the "ugly duckling" of Bruckner symphonies, but I doubt a single person in attendance Wednesday night would have agreed. Under Barenboim's leadership, at least, the piece was thrilling and consistently gorgeous. The shapely themes just kept unfolding. The first movement opens with a characteristically Brucknerian triplet accompaniment (reverently appropriated from Beethoven's Seventh) that sets up a broad, foreboding me ...
Article Link:
Huffington Post article
Philip Glass Celebrates His 80th Birthday With an 11th Symphony
NYTimes - about 1 month
The composer shares his thoughts as he approaches a milestone, which will coincide with a performance of his new work at Carnegie Hall on Tuesday.
Article Link:
NYTimes article
BroadwayCon Returns Bigger and Better Than Ever
Huffington Post - about 1 month
By Megan Wrappe, ZEALnyc Contributing Writer, January 26, 2017 Last year, over 5,000 Broadway fans crowded into the Hilton Midtown Hotel for Broadway's answer to Comic Con. There were autograph signings, sing-along's, and talks given by seasoned Broadway veterans. And on January 27-29, 2017 it's happening again. BroadwayCon 2017, now in its second year of operation, has taken a huge step forward, as evidenced in the change of venues to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center at 495 11th Avenue. The reason for this change, not only to accommodate the larger anticipated audience attendance, but for the extended schedule of events and guest list as well. This year's BroadwayCon begins on Friday morning January 27 bright and early at 10:00am, and attendees will have plenty of events from which to choose, ranging from workshops and demonstrations to fan meetups and talks monitored by Broadway stars. If you are a wannabe Broadway dancer, the "Beyond the Chorus Line: Dancers On B ...
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Huffington Post article
Philip Glass Celebrates 80 with a World Premiere at Carnegie Hall
Huffington Post - about 1 month
By Christopher Johnson, ZEALnyc Contributing Writer, January 25, 2017 He's been our go-to "ascendant modernist" for so long that it's easy to forget that Philip Glass ages just like the rest of us, and thus it may come as a shock to learn that he celebrates his eightieth birthday on January 31. As if to strain credulity even further, Glass will mark the occasion with a concert at Carnegie Hall featuring two premières--the world première of his Symphony No. 11 and the New York première of Ifé: Three Yorùbá Songs, his collaboration with the great Beninese singer-songwriter and activist Angélique Kidjo--along with Days and Nights in Rocinha, his luscious tribute to Rio de Janeiro and its samba school, all of it dished up by his longtime collaborators Dennis Russell Davies and the Bruckner Orchester Linz. Glass may not be quite as prolific as Haydn, but give him time--as of this writing, he's still only seventy-nine. The concert anchors a year of notable performances and events enco ...
Article Link:
Huffington Post article
Nico Muhly's 'Mathematical, Organic And Achingly Beautiful' Philip Glass
NPR - about 1 month
The young composer recalls his teenage discovery of Music In 12 Parts — listening on a Discman while walking in New York — and how it later energized his own compositions. (Image credit: Ana Cuba/Courtesy of the artist)
Article Link:
NPR article
Stage Door: <i>Ute Lemper's Songs From The Broken Heart, Confucius</i>
Huffington Post - about 2 months
Ute Lemper, the acclaimed German chanteuse, bares her continental soul at the inviting 54 Below nightclub, downstairs from Studio 54, tonight and tomorrow. The great Kurt Weill interpreter is taking a departure from her acclaimed repertoire. Noted for her charismatic delivery of Weimar-era classics, Lemper navigates a more intimate musical universe in Songs From the Broken Heart. Her current incarnation features a few Brechtian numbers from the streets of Berlin. But the evening isn't a showcase of her classic Fritz Hollander or Jacques Brel numbers. It's a more personal journey that traverses her interior landscape, addressing the pain of life. She showcases her musical artistry, using the poetry of Charles Bukowski or Pablo Neruda for inspiration. Her sensitivity to suffering is pronounced. This is art as introspection, searching for the truth of existence. Themes of death, love and redemption permeate her oeuvre. So does humor. She manages, in the guise of Mac the Kn ...
Article Link:
Huffington Post article
Akhnaten as you've never seen him: How L.A. Opera delivers Philip Glass' Egyptian Pharaoh tale
LATimes - 4 months
Philip Glass’ “Akhnaten” is the un-“Aida.” Verdi and Glass both re-imagined an ancient Egypt suited to the composers’ own times. But whereas Verdi relies on the great 19th century Italian opera themes of forbidden love and the like to make the exotic realm of Pharaohs and gods knowable, Glass operates...
Article Link:
LATimes article
At Ace Hotel, new live score makes 1922 'Nosferatu' a not-so-silent movie
LATimes - 4 months
Last Halloween, L.A. Opera presented “Dracula” with Philip Glass’ score at the Theatre at Ace Hotel, with the composer and the Kronos Quartet playing live behind the 1931 film. It was a sold-out holiday hit.  Inevitably, the question arose: What to do for an encore? How about another “Dracula”...
Article Link:
LATimes article
Minimalist Composer Julius Eastman, Dead for 26 Years, Crashes the Canon
NYTimes - 4 months
Minimalism has been dominated by straight white men — Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass — but Eastman, a gay black man, is a vital addition to their company, even if his take on the style was perhaps ahead of its time.
Article Link:
NYTimes article
Obama Awards 2015 National Arts And Humanities Medals
NPR - 5 months
President Obama awarded the 2015 National Arts and National Humanities Medals at the White House Thursday. Mel Brooks, Morgan Freeman, Berry Gordy and Philip Glass are among the many honorees.
Article Link:
NPR article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Philip Glass
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 2015
    Age 78
    Glass published his memoir, Words Without Music, in 2015.
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    In May 2015, Glass's Double Concerto for Two Pianos was premiered by Katia and Marielle Labèque, Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
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  • 2013
    Age 76
    In 2013 Glass contributed a piano piece "Duet" to the Park Chan-wook film Stoker.
    More Details Hide Details Glass's music was featured in two award-winning films by Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev, Elena (2011) and Leviathan (2014). For television, Glass composed the theme for Night Stalker (2005).
    In 2013, the all volunteer citizen's band of downtown New York City, The TriBattery Pops Tom Goodkind Conductor, recorded an album of Glass writings groomed by Glass sound designer Kurt Munkacsi.
    More Details Hide Details Glass had begun using the Farfisa portable organ out of convenience, and he has used it in concert. It is featured on several recordings including North Star and on "Dance No. 1" and "Dance No. 3". In 1970, Glass and Klaus Kertess (owner of the Bykert Gallery) formed a record label named Chatham Square Productions (named after the location of the studio of a Philip Glass Ensemble member Dick Landry). In 1993 Glass formed another record label, Point Music; in 1997, Point Music released Music for Airports, a live, instrumental version of Eno's composition of the same name, by Bang on a Can All-Stars. In 2002, Glass and his producer Kurt Munkacsi and artist Don Christensen founded the Orange Mountain Music company, dedicated to "establishing the recording legacy of Philip Glass" and, to date, have released sixty albums of Glass's music.
    On June 28, 2013, Glass's piano concert Two Movements for Four Pianos premiered at the Museum Kunstpalast, performed by Katia and Marielle Labèque, Maki Namekawa and Dennis Russell Davies.
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    His opera, based on a play by Austrian playwright and novelist Peter Handke, Die Spuren der Verirrten (2007), premiered at the in April 2013, conducted by Dennis Russell Davies and directed by David Pountney.
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  • 2011
    Age 74
    In August 2011, Glass presented a series of music, dance, and theater performances as part of the Days and Nights Festival.
    More Details Hide Details Along with the Philip Glass Ensemble, scheduled performers include Molissa Fenley and Dancers, John Moran with Saori Tsukada, as well as a screening of Dracula with Glass's score. Glass hopes to present this festival annually, with a focus on art, science, and conservation. Glass's recently completed and projected works include Symphony No. 9 (2010–2011), Symphony No. 10 (2012), Cello Concerto No. 2 (2012, based on the film score to Naqoyqatsi) as well as String Quartet No. 6 and No. 7. Glass's Ninth Symphony was co-commissioned by the Bruckner Orchester Linz, the American Composers Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. The symphony's first performance took place on January 1, 2012, at the Brucknerhaus in Linz, Austria (Dennis Russell Davies conducting the Bruckner Orchester Linz); the American premiere was on January 31, 2012, (Glass's 75th birthday), at Carnegie Hall (Dennis Russell Davies conducting the American Composers Orchestra), and the West Coast premiere with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the baton of John Adams on April 5. Glass's Tenth Symphony, written in five movements, was commissioned by the Orchestre français des jeunes for its 30th anniversary. The symphony's first performance took place on August 9, 2012 at the in Aix-en-Provence under Dennis Russell Davies.
    In January 2011, Glass performed at the MONA FOMA festival in Hobart, Tasmania.
    More Details Hide Details The festival promotes a broad range of art forms, including experimental sound, noise, dance, theatre, visual art, performance and new media.
  • 2010
    Age 73
    Glass also donated a short work, Brazil, to the video game Chime, which was released on February 3, 2010.
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  • 2009
    Age 72
    In 2009 and 2010, Glass returned to the concerto genre.
    More Details Hide Details Violin Concerto No. 2 in four movements was commissioned by violinist Robert McDuffie, and subtitled "The American Four Seasons" (2009), as an homage to Vivaldi's set of concertos "Le quattro stagioni". It premiered in December 2009 by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and was subsequently performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra in April 2010. The Double Concerto for Violin and Cello and Orchestra (2010) was composed for soloists Maria Bachmann and Wendy Sutter and also as a ballet score for the Nederlands Dans Theater. Other orchestral projects of 2010 are short orchestral scores for films; to a multimedia presentation based on the novel Icarus at the Edge of Time by theoretical physicist Brian Greene, which premiered on June 6, 2010, and the score for the Brazilian film Nosso Lar (released in Brazil on September 3, 2010).
    It is Glass's first opera in German, and was premiered by the Bruckner Orchester Linz and Dennis Russell Davies in September 2009.
    More Details Hide Details LA Times critic Mark Swed and others described the work as "oratorio-like"; Swed pointed out that the work is Glass's "most chromatic, complex, psychological score" and that the "The orchestra dominates I was struck by the muted, glowing colors, the character of many orchestral solos and the poignant emphasis on bass instruments".
  • 2008
    Age 71
    He was romantically involved with cellist Wendy Sutter from 2008 until 2010.
    More Details Hide Details Glass is the first cousin once removed of Ira Glass, host of the nationally syndicated radio show This American Life; Glass's cousin is Ira Glass's father. Ira interviewed Glass onstage at Chicago's Field Museum; this interview was broadcast on NPR's Fresh Air. Ira interviewed Glass a second time at a fundraiser for St. Ann's Warehouse; this interview was given away to public radio listeners as a pledge drive thank you gift in 2010. Ira and Glass recorded a version of the composition Glass wrote to accompany his friend Allen Ginsberg's poem "Wichita Vortex Sutra." In an interview, Glass said Franz Schubert—with whom he shares a birthday—is his favorite composer. In June 2012, Glass was featured on the cover of issue #79 of The Fader. In 1978 Sylvère Lotringer conducted a 14-page interview with Glass in Columbia University's philosophy department publication of Semiotext(e) called Schizo-Culture: The Event, The Book.
    2008 to 2010 Glass continued to work on a series of chamber music pieces which started with Songs and Poems: the Four Movements for Two Pianos (2008, premiered by Dennis Davies and Maki Namekawa in July 2008), a Sonata for Violin and Piano composed in "the Brahms tradition" (completed in 2008, premiered by violinist Maria Bachman and pianist Jon Klibonoff in February 2009); a String sextet (an adaption of the Symphony No. 3 of 1995 made by Glass's musical director Michael Riesman) followed in 2009.
    More Details Hide Details Pendulum (2010, a one-movement piece for violin and piano), a second Suite of cello pieces for Wendy Sutter (2011), and Partita for solo violin for violinist Tim Fain (2010, first performance of the complete work 2011), are recent entries in the series. Other works for the theater were a score for Euripides' The Bacchae (2009, directed by JoAnne Akalaitis), and Kepler (2009), yet another operatic biography of a scientist or explorer. The opera is based on the life of 17th century astronomer Johannes Kepler, against the background of the Thirty Years' War, with a libretto compiled from Kepler's texts and poems by his contemporary Andreas Gryphius.
  • 2007
    Age 70
    He provided a "hypnotic" original score for a compilation of Beckett's short plays Act Without Words I, Act Without Words II, Rough for Theatre I and Eh Joe, directed by JoAnne Akalaitis and premiered in December 2007.
    More Details Hide Details Glass's work for this production was described by The New York Times as "icy, repetitive music that comes closest to piercing the heart".
    Apart from this large-scale opera, Glass added a work to his catalogue of theater music in 2007, and continuing—after a gap of twenty years—to write music for the dramatic work of Samuel Beckett.
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    In 2007, Glass also worked alongside Leonard Cohen on an adaptation of Cohen's poetry collection Book of Longing.
    More Details Hide Details The work, which premiered in June 2007 in Toronto, is a piece for seven instruments and a vocal quartet, and contains recorded spoken word performances by Cohen and imagery from his collection. Appomattox, an opera surrounding the events at the end of the American Civil War, was commissioned by the San Francisco Opera and premiered on October 5, 2007. As in Waiting for the Barbarians, Glass collaborated with the writer Christopher Hampton, and as with the preceding opera and Symphony No. 8, the piece was conducted by Glass's long-time collaborator Dennis Russell Davies, who noted that "in his recent operas the bass line has taken on an increasing prominence, (an) increasing use of melodic elements in the deep register, in the contrabass, the contrabassoon—he's increasingly using these sounds and these textures can be derived from using these instruments in different combinations. He's definitely developed more skill as an orchestrator, in his ability to conceive melodies and harmonic structures for specific instrumental groups. what he gives them to play is very organic and idiomatic."
  • 2005
    Age 68
    Two months after the premiere of this opera, in November 2005, Glass's Symphony No. 8, commissioned by the Bruckner Orchester Linz, was premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City.
    More Details Hide Details After three symphonies for voices and orchestra, this piece was a return to purely orchestral and abstract composition; like previous works written for the conductor Dennis Russell Davies (the 1992 Concerto Grosso and the 1995 Symphony No. 3), it features extended solo writing. Critic Allan Kozinn described the symphony's chromaticism as more extreme, more fluid, and its themes and textures as continually changing, morphing without repetition, and praised the symphony's "unpredictable orchestration", pointing out the "beautiful flute and harp variation in the melancholy second movement". Alex Ross, remarked that "against all odds, this work succeeds in adding something certifiably new to the overstuffed annals of the classical symphony. The musical material is cut from familiar fabric, but it’s striking that the composer forgoes the expected bustling conclusion and instead delves into a mood of deepening twilight and unending night."
  • 1998
    Age 61
    In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Glass's projects also included two highly prestigious opera commissions, based on the life of two explorers, Christopher Columbus (The Voyage (1990), commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera, with a libretto by David Henry Hwang), and Vasco da Gama (White Raven) (1991), a collaboration with Robert Wilson and composed for the closure of the 1998 World Fair in Lisbon.
    More Details Hide Details Especially in The Voyage, the composer "explored new territory", with its "newly arching lyricism", "Sibelian starkness and sweep", and "dark, brooding tone a reflection of its increasingly chromatic (and dissonant) palette", as one commentator put it. Glass remixed the S'Express song Hey Music Lover, for the b-side of its 1989 release as a single. After these operas, Glass began working on a symphonic cycle, commissioned by the conductor Dennis Russell Davies, who told Glass at the time: "I'm not going to let you... be one of those opera composers who never write a symphony". Glass responded with two 3-movement symphonies ("Low" 1992, and Symphony No. 2 1994); his first in an ongoing series of symphonies is a combination of the composer's own musical material with themes featured in prominent tracks of the David Bowie/Brian Eno album Low (1977), whereas Symphony No. 2 is described by Glass as a study in polytonality. He referred to the music of Honegger, Milhaud, and Villa-Lobos as possible models for his symphony. With the Concerto Grosso (1992), Symphony No. 3 (1995), a Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra (1995), written for the Rascher Quartet (all commissioned by conductor Dennis Russel Davies), and Echorus (1994/95), a more transparent, refined, and intimate chamber-orchestral style paralleled the excursions of his large-scale symphonic pieces. In the four movements of his Third Symphony, Glass treats a 19-piece string orchestra as an extended chamber ensemble.
  • FIFTIES
  • 1992
    Age 55
    As Glass remarked in 1992, Akhnaten is significant in his work since it represents a "first extension out of a triadic harmonic language", an experiment with the polytonality of his teachers Persichetti and Milhaud, a musical technique which Glass compares to "an optical illusion, such as in the paintings of Josef Albers".
    More Details Hide Details Glass again collaborated with Robert Wilson on another opera, the CIVIL warS (1983, premiered in 1984), which also functioned as the final part ("the Rome section) of Wilson's epic work by the same name, originally planned for an "international arts festival that would accompany the Olympic Games in Los Angeles". (Glass also composed a prestigious work for chorus and orchestra for the opening of the Games, The Olympian: Lighting of the Torch and Closing). The premiere of The CIVIL warS in Los Angeles never materialized and the opera was in the end premiered at the Opera of Rome. Glass's and Wilson's opera includes musical settings of Latin texts by the 1st-century-Roman playwright Seneca and allusions to the music of Giuseppe Verdi and from the American Civil War, featuring the 19th century figures Giuseppe Garibaldi and Robert E. Lee as characters.
  • FORTIES
  • 1979
    Age 42
    Shortly after completing the score in August 1979, Glass met the conductor Dennis Russell Davies, whom he helped prepare for performances in Germany (using a piano-four-hands version of the score); together they started to plan another opera, to be premiered at the Stuttgart State Opera.
    More Details Hide Details While planning a third part of his "Portrait Trilogy", Glass turned to smaller music theatre projects such as the non-narrative Madrigal Opera (for six voices and violin and viola, 1980), and The Photographer, a biographic study on the photographer Eadweard Muybridge (1982). Glass also continued to write for the orchestra with his most famous film score to date, Koyaanisqatsi (Godfrey Reggio, 1981–1982). Some pieces which were not used in the film (such as Façades) eventually appeared on the album Glassworks (1982, CBS Records), which brought Glass's music to a wider public. The "Portrait Trilogy" was completed with Akhnaten (1982–1983, premiered in 1984), a vocal and orchestral composition sung in Akkadian, Biblical Hebrew, and Ancient Egyptian. In addition, this opera featured an actor reciting ancient Egyptian texts in the language of the audience. Akhnaten was commissioned by the Stuttgart Opera in a production designed by Achim Freyer. It premiered simultaneously at the Houston Opera in a production directed by David Freeman and designed by Peter Sellars. At the time of the commission, the Stuttgart Opera House was undergoing renovation, necessitating the use of a nearby playhouse with a smaller orchestra pit. Upon learning this, Glass and conductor Dennis Russell Davies visited the playhouse, placing music stands around the pit to determine how many players the pit could accommodate. The two found that they could not fit a full orchestra in the pit.
  • 1978
    Age 41
    In Spring 1978, Glass received a commission from the Netherlands Opera (as well as a Rockefeller Foundation grant) which "marked the end of his need to earn money from non-musical employment."
    More Details Hide Details With the commission Glass continued his work in music theater, composing his opera Satyagraha (composed in 1978–1979, premiered in 1980 at Rotterdam), based on the early life of Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa, Leo Tolstoy, Rabindranath Tagore, and Martin Luther King Jr.. For Satyagraha, Glass worked in close collaboration with two "SoHo friends": the writer Constance deJong, who provided the libretto, and the set designer Robert Israel. This piece was in other ways a turning point for Glass, as it was his first work since 1963 scored for symphony orchestra, even if the most prominent parts were still reserved for solo voices and chorus.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1975
    Age 38
    Composed in spring to fall of 1975 in close collaboration with Wilson, Glass's first opera was first premiered in summer 1976 at the Festival d'Avignon, and in November of the same year to a mixed and partly enthusiastic reaction from the audience at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.
    More Details Hide Details Scored for the Philip Glass Ensemble, solo violin, chorus, and featuring actors (reciting texts by Christopher Knowles, Lucinda Childs and Samuel M. Johnson), Glass's and Wilson's essentially plotless opera was conceived as a "metaphorical look at Albert Einstein: scientist, humanist, amateur musician—and the man whose theories led to the splitting of the atom", evoking nuclear holocaust in the climactic scene, as critic Tim Page pointed out. As with Another Look at Harmony, "Einstein added a new functional harmony that set it apart from the early conceptual works". Composer Tom Johnson came to the same conclusion, comparing the solo violin music to Johann Sebastian Bach, and the "organ figures to those Alberti basses Mozart loved so much". The piece was praised by The Washington Post as "one of the seminal artworks of the century." Einstein on the Beach was followed by further music for projects by the theatre group Mabou Mines such as Dressed like an Egg (1975), and again music for plays and adaptations from prose by Samuel Beckett, such as The Lost Ones (1975), Cascando (1975), Mercier and Camier (1979). Glass also turned to other media; two multi-movement instrumental works for the Philip Glass Ensemble originated as music for film and TV: North Star (1977 score for the documentary North Star: Mark di Suvero by François de Menil and Barbara Rose) and four short cues for Jim Henson's TV-series for children, Sesame Street, named Geometry of Circles (1979).
  • 1971
    Age 34
    After differences of opinion with Steve Reich in 1971, Glass formed the Philip Glass Ensemble (while Reich formed Steve Reich and Musicians), an amplified ensemble including keyboards, wind instruments (saxophones, flutes), and soprano voices.
    More Details Hide Details Glass's music for his ensemble culminated in the four-hour-long Music in Twelve Parts (1971–1974), which began as a single piece with twelve instrumental parts but developed into a cycle that summed up Glass's musical achievement since 1967, and even transcended it – the last part features a twelve-tone theme, sung by the soprano voice of the ensemble. "I had broken the rules of modernism and so I thought it was time to break some of my own rules", according to Glass. Though he finds the term minimalist inaccurate to describe his later work, Glass does accept this term for pieces up to and including Music in 12 Parts, excepting this last part which "was the end of minimalism" for Glass. As he pointed out: "I had worked for eight or nine years inventing a system, and now I'd written through it and come out the other end."
  • 1970
    Age 33
    In 1970 Glass returned to the theatre, composing music for the theatre group Mabou Mines, resulting in his first minimalist pieces employing voices: Red Horse Animation and Music for Voices (both 1970, and premiered at the Paula Cooper Gallery).
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  • 1969
    Age 32
    These pieces were performed by The Philip Glass Ensemble in the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1969 and in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 1970, often encountering hostile reaction from critics, but Glass's music was also met with enthusiasm from younger artists such as Brian Eno and David Bowie (at the Royal College of Art ca. 1970).
    More Details Hide Details Eno described this encounter with Glass's music as one of the "most extraordinary musical experiences of his life", as a "viscous bath of pure, thick energy", concluding "this was actually the most detailed music I'd ever heard. It was all intricacy, exotic harmonics".
  • 1968
    Age 31
    The first concert of Glass's new music was at Jonas Mekas's Film-Makers Cinemathèque (Anthology Film Archives) in September 1968.
    More Details Hide Details This concert included the first work of this series with Strung Out (performed by the violinist Pixley-Rothschild) and Music in the Shape of a Square (performed by Glass and Gibson). The musical scores were tacked on the wall, and the performers had to move while playing. Glass's new works met with a very enthusiastic response by the audience which consisted mainly of visual and performance artists who were highly sympathetic to Glass's reductive approach. Apart from his music career, Glass had a moving company with his cousin, the sculptor Jene Highstein, and also worked as a plumber and cab driver (during 1973 to 1978). During this time, he made friends with other New York-based artists such as Sol LeWitt, Nancy Graves, Michael Snow, Bruce Nauman, Laurie Anderson, and Chuck Close (who created a now-famous portrait of Glass). (Glass returned the compliment in 2005 with A Musical Portrait of Chuck Close for piano.)
  • TWENTIES
  • 1967
    Age 30
    Between summer of 1967 and the end of 1968, Glass composed nine works, including Strung Out (for amplified solo violin, composed in summer of 1967), Gradus (for solo saxophone, 1968), Music in the Shape of a Square (for two flutes, composed in May 1968, an homage to Erik Satie), How Now (for solo piano, 1968) and 1+1 (for amplified tabletop, November 1968) which were "clearly designed to experiment more fully with his new-found minimalist approach".
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    Shortly after arriving in New York City in March 1967, Glass attended a performance of works by Steve Reich (including the ground-breaking minimalist piece Piano Phase), which left a deep impression on him; he simplified his style and turned to a radical "consonant vocabulary".
    More Details Hide Details Finding little sympathy from traditional performers and performance spaces, Glass eventually formed an ensemble with fellow ex-students Steve Reich, Jon Gibson, and others, and began performing mainly in art galleries and studio lofts of SoHo. The visual artist Richard Serra provided Glass with Gallery contacts, while both collaborated on various sculptures, films and installations; from 1971 to 1974 he became Serra's regular studio assistant.
  • 1966
    Age 29
    Glass then left Paris for northern India in 1966, where he came in contact with Tibetan refugees and began to gravitate towards Buddhism.
    More Details Hide Details He met Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, in 1972, and has been a strong supporter of the Tibetan independence ever since.
  • 1965
    Age 28
    In parallel with his early excursions in experimental theatre, Glass worked in winter 1965 and spring 1966 as a music director and composer on a film score (Chappaqua, Conrad Rooks, 1966) with Ravi Shankar and Alla Rakha, which added another important influence on Glass's musical thinking.
    More Details Hide Details His distinctive style arose from his work with Shankar and Rakha and their perception of rhythm in Indian music as being entirely additive. He renounced all his compositions in a moderately modern style resembling Milhaud's, Aaron Copland's, and Samuel Barber's, and began writing pieces based on repetitive structures of Indian music and a sense of time influenced by Samuel Beckett: a piece for two actresses and chamber ensemble, a work for chamber ensemble and his first numbered string quartet (No. 1, 1966).
    These significant encounters resulted in a collaboration with Breuer for which Glass contributed music for a 1965 staging of Samuel Beckett's Comédie (Play, 1963).
    More Details Hide Details The resulting piece (written for two soprano saxophones) was directly influenced by the play's open-ended, repetitive and almost musical structure and was the first one of a series of four early pieces in a minimalist, yet still dissonant, idiom. After Play, Glass also acted in 1966 as music director of a Breuer production of Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children, featuring the theatre score by Paul Dessau.
  • 1964
    Age 27
    Together with Akalaitis (they married in 1965), Glass in turn attended performances by theatre groups including Jean-Louis Barrault's Odéon theatre, The Living Theatre and the Berliner Ensemble in 1964 to 1965.
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    In 1964, Glass received a Fulbright Scholarship and went to Paris, where he studied with the eminent composition teacher Nadia Boulanger from autumn of 1964 to summer of 1966.
    More Details Hide Details Glass's years in Paris as a student made a lasting impression and influenced his work ever since, as the composer admitted in 1979: "The composers I studied with Boulanger are the people I still think about most—Bach and Mozart." Glass later stated in his autobiography Music by Philip Glass (1987) that the new music performed at Pierre Boulez's Domaine Musical concerts in Paris lacked any excitement for him (with the notable exceptions of music by John Cage and Morton Feldman), but he was deeply impressed by new films and theatre performances. His move away from modernist composers such as Boulez and Stockhausen was nuanced, rather than outright rejection: "That generation wanted disciples and as we didn't join up it was taken to mean that we hated the music, which wasn't true. We'd studied them at Juilliard and knew their music. How on earth can you reject Berio? Those early works of Stockhausen are still beautiful. But there was just no point in attempting to do their music better than they did and so we started somewhere else." He encountered revolutionary films of the French New Wave, such as those of Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut, which upended the rules set by an older generation of artists, and Glass made friends with American visual artists (the sculptor Richard Serra and his wife Nancy Graves), actors and directors (JoAnne Akalaitis, Ruth Maleczech, David Warrilow, and Lee Breuer, with whom Glass later founded the experimental theatre group Mabou Mines).
  • 1962
    Age 25
    After leaving Juilliard in 1962, Glass moved to Pittsburgh and worked as a school-based composer-in-residence in the public school system, composing various choral, chamber and orchestral music.
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  • 1959
    Age 22
    In 1959, he was a winner in the BMI Foundation's BMI Student Composer Awards, one of the most prestigious international prizes for young composers.
    More Details Hide Details In the summer of 1960, he studied with Darius Milhaud at the summer school of the Aspen Music Festival and composed a violin concerto for a fellow student, Dorothy Pixley-Rothschild.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1954
    Age 17
    In 1954 Glass went to Paris for the first time, encountering the films of Jean Cocteau, which made a lasting impression on him.
    More Details Hide Details He visited artists' studios and saw their work; "the bohemian life you see in Cocteau's Orphée was the life I... was attracted to, and those were the people I hung out with." Glass studied at the Juilliard School of Music where the keyboard was his main instrument. His composition teachers included Vincent Persichetti and William Bergsma. Fellow students included Steve Reich and Peter Schickele.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1937
    Age 0
    Glass was born on January 31, 1937, in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Ida (née Gouline) and Benjamin Charles Glass.
    More Details Hide Details His family were Jewish immigrants from Lithuania. His mother was a librarian and his father owned a record store. Glass's record collection consisted to a large extent of unsold records from his father's store and included modern classical music such as Hindemith, Bartók, Schoenberg, Shostakovich and Western classical music including Beethoven's string quartets and Schubert's B Piano Trio. Glass cites Schubert's work as a "big influence" at an early age. He studied the flute as a child at the university-preparatory school of the Peabody Institute. At the age of 15 he entered an accelerated college program at the University of Chicago where he studied mathematics and philosophy. In Chicago he discovered the serialism of Anton Webern and composed a twelve-tone string trio.
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