Philip Glass

Philip Glass

Philip Glass (born January 31, 1937) is an American classical music composer who has been nominated for three Academy Awards. He is considered one of the most influential composers of the late-20th century [Naxos Classical Music Spotlight podcast: Philip Glass Heroes Symphony] [ [ New York News and Features: The Influentials: Classical and Dance] ] [ [,4273,4306156,00.html Guardian Unlimited: When less means more] ] [ [ Rhapsody Online artist profile of Philip Glass] ] [ [ Andante online: A Composer's Century] ] and is widely acknowledged as a composer who has brought art music to the American public (along with precursors such as Richard Strauss, Kurt Weill and Leonard Bernstein).

His music is described as "minimalist", from which he distanced himself in being a composer of "music with repetitive structures". [ [ Philip Glass: Biography ] ] Although his early, mature music is minimalist, he has evolved stylistically. [ [ Is Glass Half Empty? ] ] [ [ "The New York Times" "If Grant Had Been Singing at Appomattox" September 23, 2007 by Steve Smith] ] Currently, he describes himself as a "Classicist", trained in harmony and counterpoint and studied Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Franz Schubert. [Glass in conversation with Belinda McKoen, Irish Times, June 28, 2008,]

Glass is a prolific composer: he has written ensemble works, operas, eight symphonies, eight concertos, film scores, and solo works. Glass counts many visual artists, writers, musicians, and directors among his friends, including Richard Serra, Chuck Close, Doris Lessing, Allen Ginsberg, Errol Morris, Robert Wilson, JoAnne Akalaitis, John Moran, actors Bill Treacher and Peter Dean, Godfrey Reggio, Ravi Shankar, Linda Ronstadt, Paul Simon, David Bowie, Patti Smith, the conductor Dennis Russell Davies, and electronic musician Aphex Twin, who have all collaborated with him. Among recent collaborators are Glass's fellow New Yorkers Leonard Cohen, and Woody Allen. He composed an opera for the opening of Expo '98.

He describes himself as "a Jewish-Taoist-Hindu-Toltec-Buddhist", [Philip Glass in conversation with Jeff Gordinier, March 2008,] and a supporter of the Tibetan cause. In 1987 he co-founded the Tibet House with Columbia University professor Robert Thurman and the actor Richard Gere.

He has four children: two, Zachary (b. 1971) and Juliet (b. 1968) with his first wife, theater director JoAnne Akalaitis (m. 1965, div. 1980); and two, Marlowe and Cameron with his fourth wife, Holly Critchlow (separated). He is currently romantically involved with cellist Wendy Sutter (2005-present). [ [ Philip Glass - Appomattox - Satyagraha - Opera - New York Times ] ] Glass lives in New York and in Nova Scotia. He is the first cousin once removed of Ira Glass, host of the nationally syndicated radio show "This American Life". Philip Glass's father is Ira Glass's great uncle. [ [ Questions for Ira Glass - This American TV Show - National Public Radio - New York Times ] ]

Life and Work

:"For a list of works, see List of compositions by Philip Glass"

Beginnings, education and influences

Glass was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the grandson of Jewish immigrants from Lithuania. His father owned a record store, and consequently Glass's record collection consisted to a large extent of unsold records, including modern music (Hindemith, Bartók, Schoenberg, [Philip Glass in conversation with Jeff Gordinier, March 2008,] Shostakovich) and Western classical music (Ludwig van Beethoven's String Quartets and Schubert's Bmusic|b Piano Trio, which he cites as a "big influence" [Philip Glass in converstion with Michael Church, The Independent (London), June 29, 2007,] ), at a very early age. He then studied the flute as a child at the Peabody Conservatory of Music and entered an accelerated college program at the University of Chicago at the age of 15, where he studied Mathematics and Philosophy. In Chicago he discovered the serialism of Webern and composed a twelve-tone string trio. [K. Robert Schwarz, Minimalists, Phaidon Press London, 1996, p.109]

He then went on to the Juilliard School of Music where the keyboard became his main instrument. His composition teachers included Vincent Persichetti and William Bergsma. During this time, 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. In the summer of 1960, he studied with Darius Milhaud and composed a Violin Concerto for a fellow student, Dorothy Pixley-Rothschild. [Glass in a conversation with Ev Grimes, 1989, quoted in Richard Kostelanetz (ed.), Writings on Glass, University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London 1997, p.25]

The next step was Paris, where he studied with the eminent composition teacher Nadia Boulanger from 1963 to 1965, analyzing scores of Johann Sebastian Bach (The Well-Tempered Clavier), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (the Piano Concertos), and Beethoven. 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 performances of new plays at Jean-Louis Barrault's Odéon theatre and the revolutionary films of the French New Wave, such as those of Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut, which ignored the rules set by an older generation of artists. [ in "Music by Philip Glass", New York: DaCapo Press, 1985, p. 14]

After working with Ravi Shankar in France on a film score ("Chappaqua"), Glass traveled to northern India in 1966, where he came in contact with Tibetan refugees and began to gravitate towards Buddhism. He met Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, in 1972, and has been a strong supporter of the Tibetan cause ever since.

His distinctive style arose from his work with Shankar and his perception of rhythm in Indian music as being entirely additive. When he returned home 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 and a sense of time influenced by Samuel Beckett, whose work he encountered when he was writing for experimental theater. The first of the early pieces in this minimalist idiom was the music for a production of Beckett's "Comédie" (Play, 1963) in 1965 for two soprano saxophones; another was a string quartet (No.1, 1966). [Joan La Barbara, Philip Glass and Steve Reich: Two from the Steady State School, 1974, quoted in Kostelanetz, p.40-41]

Minimalism: From "Strung Out" to "Music in 12 Parts"

Finding little sympathy from traditional performers and performance spaces, Glass eventually formed an ensemble in New York City in the late 1960s with fellow ex-students Steve Reich, Jon Gibson, and others and began performing mainly in art galleries.

The first concert of Philip Glass's new music was at Jonas Mekas's Film-Makers Cinemathèque (Anthology Film Archives) in 1968. This concert included "Music in the Shape of a Square" for two flutes (an homage to Erik Satie, performed by Glass and Gibson) and "Strung Out" for amplified solo violin (performed by the violinist Pixley-Rothschild). 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 open-minded audience that consisted mainly of visual and performance artists who were highly sympathetic to Glass's reductive approach.

Apart from his music career, he worked as a cab driver, had a moving company with Steve Reich, and worked as an assistant for the sculptor Richard Serra. During this time he made friends with other New York based artists such as Sol LeWitt, Nancy Graves, Laurie Anderson, and Chuck Close, who created a now famous portrait of Glass. [Philip Glass in conversation with Chuck Close and William Bartman, in, Joanne Kesten (ed.), The Portraits Speak: Chuck Close in conversation with 27 of his subjects, A.R.T. Press, New York, 1997, p. 170] (Glass returned the favour in 2005 with "A Musical Portrait of Chuck Close" for piano, dedicated to the visual artist.) After certain differences of opinion with Steve Reich [Schwarz, p.119] , 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. At first his works continued to be rigorously minimalist, diatonic and repetitively structured, such as "Two Pages", "Contrary Motion", or "Music in Fifths" (a kind of homage to his composition teacher Nadia Boulanger, who pointed out "hidden fifths" in his works but regarded them as cardinal sins). Eventually Glass's music grew less austere, becoming more complex and dramatic, with pieces such as "Music in Similar Motion" (1969), "Music with Changing Parts" (1970).

The series culminated in the four-hour-long "Music in Twelve Parts" (1971–1974), which began as a sole 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. 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".

Theatre Music: The Portrait Trilogy and beyond

Glass continued his work on South Street with two series of instrumental works, “Another Look at Harmony” (1975), “Fourth Series” (1978–79), and "Dance" (a collaboration with choreographer Lucinda Childs and the visual artist Sol Lewitt, 1979). In turn his music theater works from this time became more famous. The first one was a collaboration with Robert Wilson—a piece of musical theater that was later designated by Glass as the first opera of his portrait opera trilogy: "Einstein on the Beach" (composed in 1975 and first performed in 1976), featuring his ensemble, solo violin, chorus, and actors. The piece was praised by the Washington Post as "one of the seminal artworks of the century."

Glass continued his work for music theater with composing his opera "Satyagraha" (1980), themed on the early life of Mahatma Gandhi and his experiences in South Africa. This piece also was a turning point for Glass, as it was his first one scored for symphony orchestra, even if the most prominent parts were still reserved for solo voices (but now operatic) and chorus.

The Trilogy was completed with "Akhnaten" (1983–1984), a powerful 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 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. Glass decided to eliminate the violins, which had the effect of "giving the orchestra a low, dark sound that came to characterize the piece and suited the subject very well." [ in "Music by Philip Glass", New York: DaCapo Press, 1985, p. 170]

In the same year, Glass again collaborated with Robert Wilson on another opera, "the CIVIL warS", 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". [ David Wright, booklet notes to the first recording of the opera, released on Nonesuch Records, 1999] The premiere in Los Angeles never materialized and the opera was in the end premiered at the Opera of Rome, and included texts by Seneca and allusions to the music of Giuseppe Verdi and music from the American Civil War (featuring the 19th century figures Giuseppe Garibaldi and Robert E. Lee as characters).

After this project, Glass continued his series of operas with adaptations from literary texts such as Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" (1987), and also worked with novelist Doris Lessing on the opera "The Making Of The Representative For Planet 8" (1985-86) which was performed by Houston Grand Opera and English National Opera in 1988.

Glass's work for theater from this time - apart from his works for the Philip Glass Ensemble and music theater - included many compositions for the group Mabou Mines, which he co-founded in 1970. This work included further music (after the ground-breaking "Play") for plays or adaptations from the prose by Samuel Beckett, such as "The Lost Ones" (1975), "Cascando" (1975), "Mercier and Camier" (1979), "Endgame" (1984), and "Company" (1984). Beckett approved of the Mabou Mines production "The Lost Ones", but vehemently disapproved of the production of "Endgame" at the American Repertory Theatre (Cambridge, Massachusetts), which featured Joanne Akalaitis's direction and Glass's "Prelude" for timpani and double bass. In the end, though, he authorized the music for "Company", four short, intimate pieces for string quartet that were played in the intervals of the dramatization. This composition which was initially regarded by the composer as a piece of Gebrauchsmusik (music for use) - "like salt and pepper (...) just something for the table”, as Glass noted. [ John Seabrook, "Glass's Master Class", The New Yorker, March 20, 2006,] Eventually "Company" was published as Glass's String Quartet No.2 and in a version for string orchestra, being performed by ensembles ranging from student orchestras to renowned ones such as the Kronos Quartet and the Kremerata Baltica.

Postminimalism: From the Violin Concerto to Symphony No.3

Compositions such as "Company" gave way to a series of works more accessible to ensembles such as the string quartet and symphony orchestra, in this returning to the structural roots of his student days. In taking this direction his chamber and orchestral works were also written in a more and more traditional and lyrical vein. In these works, Glass occasionally even employs old musical forms such as the Chaconne — for instance in "Satyagraha" (1980), the Violin Concerto (1987), Symphony No. 3 (1995) and recent works such as Symphony No.8 (2005) and "Songs and Poems for Solo Cello" (2006). In the same way, his works often allude to historical styles (Baroque, Western classical, early Romantic, and early 20th Century Western classical music), but mostly without abandoning his highly individual musical style or lapsing into mere pastiche.

A series of orchestral works that were originally composed for the concert hall commenced with an almost neo-baroque 3-movement Violin Concerto (1987). This piece was written in the memory of Glass's father: "His favorite form was the violin concerto, and so I grew up listening to the Mendelssohn, the Paganini, the Brahms concertos. (...) So when I decided to write a violin concerto, I wanted to write one that my father would have liked." [ Glass in a conversation with Lawrence A. Johnson, Miami Herald, February 3, 2008,] Among its multiple recordings, in 1992, the Concerto was performed and recorded by Gidon Kremer and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

This turn to orchestral music was continued with a symphonic Trilogy (the Light, the Canyon, Itaipu, 1987–1989), two orchestral operas ("The Voyage" [1990] , commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera, and "White Raven" [1991] ), and two 3-movement symphonies ("Low" [1992] , inspired by the David Bowie/ Brian Eno album of the same name), and Symphony No.2 [1994] ). Glass described his Symphony No.2 as a study in polytonality and referred to the music of Honegger, Milhaud, and Villa-Lobos as possible models for his symphony, but the gloomy, brooding, dissonant tone of the piece seemed to be even more evocative of Dmitri Shostakovich's symphonies.

Central to his chamber music from the same time are the last two from a series of five string quartets that were written for the Kronos Quartet (1989 and 1991), and chamber works which originated as incidental music for plays: "Music from The Screens" (1989) and "In the Summer House" (1993). These works have its roots in a theater music collaboration with the director Joanne Akalaitis (Glass's first wife), who originally asked the Gambian musician Foday Musa Suso "to do the score [for The Screens] in collaboration with a western composer", who was finally found in Philip Glass. [Booklet notes by Philip Glass to the album "Music from the Screens, Point Music, 1993] It is, on occasion, a touring piece for Glass and Suso, and individual pieces found its way to the concert hall. Apart from Suso's contributions and influence in "The Screens", the musical texture of these pieces is remotely evocative to classical European chamber music ranging from Bach to French chamber music by Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel.

With the Concerto Grosso (1992), Symphony No.3 (1995), and the Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra (1995) (all commissioned by the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra and its conductor Dennis Russel Davies) a more transparent, refined, and intimate chamber-orchestral style resurfaced after the excursions of his large-scale symphonic pieces (mirroring similar developments in the work of his contemporary and colleague Steve Reich). In the four movements of his Third Symphony, Glass treats a 19-piece string orchestra as an extended chamber ensemble, and seems to evoke early classical music, as well as the neo-classical music of Igor Stravinsky and Béla Bartók. In particular, the second movement is much freer than anything else before in Glass's output since 1966, whereas in the third, Glass re-uses the Chaconne as a formal device [Booklet notes by Philip Glass to the album "Symphony No.3, Nonesuch, 2000] , creating haunting string textures.

Since the late 1970s and again the late 1980s, Glass has written more works for solo piano, starting with occasional piano pieces which are associated with his friends, such as "Mad Rush"(1979, dedicated to the Dalai Lama), Witchita Sutra Vortex (1988, written for the poet Allen Ginsberg). This pieces were followed by two piano cycles: Metamorphosis (five pieces for a theatrical adaptation of Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis" [1988] ), and his first volume of Etudes for Piano (1994-1995). The first six Etudes were originally commissioned by the conductor and pianist Dennis Russell Davies, but the complete first set is now often performed by Glass. The critic John Rockwell dismissed "Metamorphosis" (as well as all other works by Glass since "Akhnaten") as "simplistic," but praised the Etudes as "powerful," comparing them to Bartók's oeuvre for piano Fact|date=February 2007. Most of the Etudes are composed in the post-minimalist/more expressive style of the Second and Third Symphonies, and Saxophone Quartet Concerto as well as the opera triptych from the same period.

A second opera triptych: "Orphée", "La Belle et la Bête" and "Les Enfants Terribles"

Glass's prolific output continued to include operas, especially a second opera triptych (1993–1996) based on the work of Jean Cocteau, his prose and his films ("Orphée" (1949), "La Belle et la Bête" (1946), and the novel "Les Enfants Terribles", 1929, later made into a film by Cocteau and Jean-Pierre Melville, 1950). In the same way it is also a musical homage to the work of a French group of composers associated with Cocteau, Les Six. Apart from this influence, "Les Enfants Terribles" (1996, scored for voices and three pianos), is indebted in its writing for the piano ensemble to a musical key work from the 18th century: Bach's Concerto for Four Harpsichords (or four pianos) in A minor, BWV1065 (based on a concerto by Vivaldi). Not coincidentally, Bach's Concerto was used in the score of Melville's film. [Michael Zwiebach, Arrested Development, in San Francisco Classical Voice, October 7, 2006,]

Furthermore, in the first part of the trilogy, "Orphée" (1993), the inspiration can be (conceptually and musically) traced to Gluck's opera "Orfeo ed Euridice" ("Orphée et Euridyce", 1762/1774),K.Robert Schwarz, "Minimalists", 1996, p.164] which had a prominent part in Cocteau's 1949 film "Orphee". [Paul Barnes in his booklet notes to the album "The Orphée Suite for Piano, Orange Mountain Music, 2003] One theme of the opera, the death of Eurydice, has some similarity to the composer's personal life: the opera was composed about a year after the unexpected death in 1991 of Glass's wife, artist Candy Jernigan: "(...) one can only suspect that Orpheus' grief must have resembled the composer's own." [Schwarz, p.164] The opera's "transparency of texture, a subtlety of instrumental color" [Schwarz, p.164] was praised, and "The Guardian" 's critic remarked "Glass has a real affinity for the French text and sets the words eloquently, underpinning them with delicately patterned instrumental textures.". [Andrew Clements, "The Guardian" (London), June 2, 2005,,,1918357,00.html]

New directions: symphonies, opera, and concerti

Glass's lyrical and romantic styles peaked with the "Études for Piano", "Les Enfants Terribles", Godfrey Reggio's "Naqoyqatsi" (2002), the chamber opera "The Sound of a Voice" (2003), the concerti series since 2000, and three symphonies centered on orchestra-singer and orchestra-chorus interplay. Two symphonies, Symphony No.5 "Choral" (1999) and Symphony No.7 "Toltec" (2004), and "Songs of Milarepa" (1997), and the cantata "The Passion of Ramakrishna" [2006] ), are thematically meditative. The operatic Symphony No.6 "Plutonian Ode" (2001) explored new, complex musical textures. The Brucknerhaus Linz and Carnegie Hall commissioned it in celebration of Glass's sixty-fifth birthday. It originated as Glass's collaboration with Allen Ginsberg (poet, piano — Ginsberg, Glass), based on his eponymous poem.

Encouraged by conductor Dennis Russell Davies to pursue concert music, to date, Glass has composed eight concerti, among them the aforementioned "Violin Concerto" (1987) and the "Saxophone Quartet Concerto" (1995). In the early 2000s Glass started a whole series of concerti with The "Tirol Concerto for Piano and Orchestra" (2000, premiered by Dennis Russell Davies as conductor and soloist), the "Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra" (2000), which is a popular, often-played concerto. The "Concerto for Cello and Orchestra" (2001) had its premiere performance in Beijing, featuring cellist Julian Lloyd Webber; it was composed in celebration of his fiftieth birthday. [ [ Concerto for Cello and Orchestra on ChesterNovello website] ] These concertos were followed by the rigorously neo-baroque "Concerto for Harpsichord and Orchestra" (2002), demonstrating Glass's classical technique. Two years later, the concerti series continued with "Piano Concerto No. 2: After Lewis and Clark" (2004), composed for the pianist Paul Barnes. The concerto celebrates the pioneers' trek across North America, the second movement features the Native American flute. With the chamber opera "The Sound of a Voice" (2003), featuring a Chinese Pipa to the chamber ensemble, "After Lewis and Clark" might be regarded as bridging Glass's traditional compositions and his popular excursions to World Music, e.g. with Orion in 2004.

"Waiting for the Barbarians" (from J.M. Coetzee's eponymous novel) with libretto by Christopher Hampton, is Glass's first grand opera in eight years ("The Marriages of Zones 3, 4 and 5" [1997] story-libretto by Doris Lessing, precedes it) had it premiere performance in September of 2005, per Conductor D. Russell Davies, Philip Glass "used very simple means, and the orchestration is very clear and very traditional; it's almost classical in sound". [ Dennis Russell Davies in conversation with Richard Scheinin, Mercury News, October 7, 2007,]

"Songs and Poems": Recent works

Two months later, 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. After three symphonies for voices and orchestra, this piece is a return to purely orchestral composition, and 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" (Kozinn especially pointed out the "beautiful flute and harp variation in the melancholy second movement" [Allan Kozinn, "A First Hearing for a Glass Symphony," "New York Times", November 4, 2005] ). Another critic, 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." [Alex Ross, "The Endless Scroll", "The New Yorker", November 5, 2007,]

After his Symphony no.8, Glass has again continued his ever-prolific output and turned again to "theatre", film and chamber music. His "Passion of Ramakrishna " (2006), was composed for the Orange County's Pacific Symphony Orchestra, the Pacific Chorale and the conductor Carl St. Clair.

"Songs and Poems for Solo Cello", a Cello Suite in seven movements from the same year, was composed for Glass's girlfriend, the cellist Wendy Sutter. It was described by Lisa Hirsch as "a major work, (...) a major addition to the cello repertory" and "deeply Romantic in spirit, and at the same time deeply Baroque". [ Lisa Hirsch, Chambered Glass, San Francisco Classical Voice, September 28, 2007,] Another critic, Anne Midgette of the Washington Post, noted that the suite "maintains an unusual degree of directness and warmth"; she also noted (as Hirsch) a kinship to a major work by Johann Sebastian Bach: "Digging into the lower registers of the instrument, it takes flight in handfuls of notes, now gentle, now impassioned, variously evoking the minor-mode keening of klezmer music and the interior meditations of Bach's cello suites". [ Anne Midgette, New CDs From Musicians Who Play the Field, Washington Post, March 9, 2008,]

Notable orchestral film scores include the music for Neil Burger's "The Illusionist" (2006), Richard Eyre's "Notes on a Scandal" (2006), and Woody Allen's "Cassandra's Dream" (2007). In 2007 Glass has also worked alongside Leonard Cohen on an adaptation of Cohen's poetry collection "Book of Longing". The work, which premiered in June, 2007, in Toronto, Canada, is a piece for seven instruments and a vocal quartet, and contains recorded spoken word performances by Cohen and imagery from his collection.

"Appomattox", Glass's most recent opera, surrounding the events at the end of the American Civil War, and commissioned by the San Francisco Opera was premiered on October 5, 2007. As "Waiting for the Barbarians" and Symphony No.8, the piece was conducted by Glass's long time collaborator 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." [ Dennis Russell Davies in conversation with Richard Scheinin, Mercury News, October 7, 2007,]

Apart from this large-scale opera, Glass added a work to his catalogue of theatre music in 2007, and continuing - after a gap of twenty years - to write music for the dramatic work of Samuel Beckett. He provided an "hypnotic" original score for a compilation 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. Glass's work for this production was described by "The New York Times" as "icy, repetitive music that comes closest to piercing the heart". [ Ben Brantley, 'BECKETT SHORTS'; When a Universe Reels, A Baryshnikov May Fall, New York Times, December 19, 2007,] Glass continues his work with Akalaitis with his choral music to Euripides' The Bacchae (2008).

Other new pieces show his ongoing interest in purely abstract chamber music: the "Four Movements for Two Pianos" (premiered by Dennis Davies and Maki Namekawa in 2008), and a yet unnamed piece for violin and piano (to be premiered by violinist Maria Bachman and pianist Jon Klibonoff in February 2009). [ "Philip Glass composition to premiere in Harrisburg", The Patriot-News, SEptember 16, 2008,]

Among other new works in various stages of completion are "Los Paisajes del Rio" (for the Philip Glass Ensemble, 2008), the symphonies No.9 and No.10, and "Kepler", a large-scale opera on the life of Johannes Kepler (to be premiered by Dennis Russell Davies, 2009). [ Cy Musiker, "Philip Glass' 'Appomattox' Makes Its Debut" NPR, October 7, 2007,]

He has been commissioned by the New York City Opera to produce and write an opera based on the last days of Walt Disney, based on the novel The Perfect American by Peter Stephan Jungk. This is to debut in 2012.

Influences and connections

Many popular musicians such as David Bowie, Brian Eno and Richard D. James, as well as film composers such as Danny Elfman, have credited Glass's influence upon the music of the second half of the twentieth centuryFact|date=June 2008.

Aside from composing in the Western classical tradition, his music has ties to rock, ambient music, electronic music, and world music. Early admirers of his minimalism include musicians Brian Eno and David Bowie. [ [ Raymond McGill, "Release notes for The World of Philip Glass", 2002] ] In the 1990s, Glass composed the symphonies "Low" (1992) and "Heroes" (1996), thematically derived from the Bowie-Eno collaboration albums "Low" and ""Heroes"" (composed in late 1970s Berlin). In 1997, he released "Music for Airports", a live, instrumental version of Eno's eponymous composition, by Bang on a Can All-Stars, on the Philips/PolyGram (Universal Music Group) and distributed by POINT Music.

Philip Glass has collaborated with singers such as Paul Simon, Suzanne Vega, Natalie Merchant, and Aphex Twin (yielding an orchestration of "Icct Hedral" in [1995] on the Donkey Rhubarb EP). Eventually, POINT Music closed, however, Glass continues working in his own recording studio. Glass's compositional influence extends to musicians such as Mike Oldfield (who included parts from Glass's "North Star" in "Platinum"), and bands such as Tangerine Dream, Phish, and Talking Heads.

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 forty albums of Philip Glass's music.

Music for film

filename=Philip Glass-Naqoyqatsi.ogg
title=Music from Naqoyqatsi
description=From Naqoyqatsi by Philip Glass
Glass has composed many film scores, starting with the orchestral score for "Koyaanisqatsi" (Godfrey Reggio, 1982), and continuing with two biopics, "" (Paul Schrader, 1985, resulting in the String Quartet No.3) and "Kundun" (Martin Scorsese, 1997) about the Dalai Lama, for which he received his first Academy Award nomination.

In 1988, Glass began a collaboration with the filmmaker Errol Morris with his score for Morris's celebrated documentary "The Thin Blue Line". He continued composing for the Qatsi trilogy with the scores for "Powaqqatsi" (Reggio, 1988) and "Naqoyqatsi" (Reggio, 2002). In 1995 he composed the theme for Reggio's short independent film "Evidence". He even made a cameo appearance in Peter Weir's "The Truman Show" (1998), which uses music from "Powaqqatsi", "Anima Mundi" and "Mishima", as well as three original tracks by Glass (who is actually briefly visible performing at the piano in the film itself).

In 1999, he finished a new soundtrack for the 1931 film "Dracula". "The Hours" (Stephen Daldry, 2002), which earned him a second Academy Award nomination; "Taking Lives" (D. J. Caruso, 2004); and "The Fog of War" (Errol Morris, 2003) are his most notable scores for films from the early 2000s, containing older works but also newly composed music. He also composed scores for the thrillers "Secret Window" (David Koepp, 2004), "Candyman" (Bernard Rose, 1992) and its sequel, "" (Bill Condon, 1995), plus a film adaptation of Joseph Conrad's "The Secret Agent" (1996).

Most recently, Glass composed the above mentioned scores for Neil Burger's "The Illusionist" and Richard Eyre's "Notes on a Scandal" in 2006, garnering his third Academy Award nomination for the latter. Glass's newest film scores include Scott Hicks' "No Reservations", Woody Allen's "Cassandra's Dream" and Laurent Charbonnier's documentary "Les Animaux Amoureux" ("Animals in Love"), all from 2007. In 2005 he composed the score for the film Neverwas, an independent production starring Aaron Eckhart and Ian McKellen. In 2008, Rockstar Games released "Grand Theft Auto IV" featuring Glass's "Pruit Igoe" on the in-game radio station called The Journey. []


This section is of films about Philip Glass. See "Music for film", above, for his soundtrack compositions.

*1976 - "Music With Roots in the Aether: Opera for Television". Tape 2: Philip Glass. Produced and directed by Robert Ashley.
*1983 - "Philip Glass". From "Four American Composers". Directed by Peter Greenaway.
*1985 - "A Composer's Notes: Philip Glass and the Making of an Opera". Directed by Michael Blackwood.
*1986 - "Einstein on the Beach: The Changing Image of Opera". Directed by Mark Obenhaus.
*2007 - "GLASS: a portrait of Philip in twelve parts". Directed by Scott Hicks.

Awards and nominations

Academy Awards

Best Original Score
* Nominated: "Kundun" (1997)
* Nominated: "The Hours" (2002)
* Nominated: "Notes on a Scandal" (2006)

BAFTA Awards

Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music
* Won: "The Hours" (2002)

Golden Globe Awards

Best Original Score
* Nominated: "Kundun" (1998)
* Won: "The Truman Show" (1999)
* Nominated: "The Hours" (2003)



*Bartman, William and Kesten, Joanne (editors). "The Portraits Speak: Chuck Close in Conversation with 27 of his subjects", New York: A.R.T. Press, 1997
*Grimes, Ev, "Interview: Education, 1989", in Richard Kostelanetz and Robert Flemming (Editors), "Writings on Glass. Essays, Interviews, Criticism", University of California Press, 1999
*Jones, Robert T., ed. (1987). "Philip Glass. Music By Philip Glass" New York: Da Capo Press.
*Knowlson, James (2004). "Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett", New York, Grove Press.
*Kraynak, Janet (ed.). "Please Pay Attention Please: Bruce Nauman's Words", Cambridge & London: MIT Press, 2003 (2005 paperback edition) - Writing and Interviews.
*La Barbara, Joan. "Phillip Glass and Steve Reich: Two from the Steady State School",(1974) in Richard Kostelanetz and Robert Flemming (Editors), "Writings on Glass. Essays, Interviews, Criticism", University of California Press, 1999
*Potter, Keith (2000). "Four Musical Minimalists: La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass. Music in the Twentieth Century series. Cambridge, UK; New York, New York: Cambridge University Press.
*Schwartz, K. Robert (1996). "Minimalists", New York: Phaidon Press.

ee also

*List of compositions by Philip Glass
*Lithuanian Jews
*Minimalist music
*Arvo Pärt
*Terry Riley
*Steve Reich
*Meredith Monk
*John Adams
*Louis Andriessen
*Michael Snow
*Peter Greenaway
*John Moran
*Robert Moran
*Ira Glass (his first cousin, once removed)
*Kronos Quartet
*Robert Wilson
*Michael Nyman
*Charlemagne Palestine
*Phill Niblock

External links

Official site

* [ Official Web site]

Other sites

* [ Philip Glass on the Web] , an extensive fan site
* [ A site on Glass and Samuel Beckett] (at the Internet Archive)
* [ Cello Concerto reviews]


* [ Philip Glass, "Igor Stravinsky: His "Rite of Spring" heralded the century. After that, he never stopped reinventing himself — or modern music", "Time", June 8, 1998]
* [ Philip Glass, "A Composer's Century",, 2002]


* [ "Philip Glass in conversation with Thomas Moore", 1981]
* [ Interview, BBC4 on line, 1986]
* [ Al Weisel,"Working Glass Man: Philip Glass","The Bulletin" on line, December 14, 1999, pages 96-97]
* [ Frank J. Oteri, "Philip Glass: 25 Years after "Einstein On The Beach"," "NewMusicBox" online, 2001 (includes video)]
* [,4273,4306156,00.html John O'Mahony, "When less means more", "The Guardian", November 24, 2001] Interview with Glass.
* [ Five Minutes with Philip Glass and Charlie Hoyt, 2001]
* [ Kevin Lerner, "Concrete, Steel and Philip Glass", "Architectural Record" on line, 2001]
* [ An Interview on the "Tirol Concerto", by Rainer Lepuschitz, 2002]
* [,,862721,00.html Richard Williams,"Looking Glass", "The Guardian", December 20, 2002] - interview.
* [ John Eyles,"Looking Glass", "All About Jazz" online, October 15, 2003]
* [ Ryan McKittrick, "Bending A Voice", "American Repertory Theatre" on line, 2003] - Interview on "The Sound of a Voice".
* [ Scott Cummings, "Pipa pair: Philip Glass and David Henry Hwang discuss "The Sound of a Voice", "The" on line, 2003]
* [ "Philip Glass, Premiering "A Toltec Symphony", "" online, January 22, 2007] - interview on Symphony #7
* [ "Philip Glass: Complex Minimalist" - interview on National Public Radio's Morning Edition, broadcast 10/03/08]


* [ The Composer's Page at Chester Music & Novello, including a biography and a list of works]

Articles, reviews, etc.

* [ Paul Barnes, Glass's Piano Concerto No. 2, 2004]
* [ Tim Page, "Nothing Less: Philip Glass's New Symphony Is Anything but Minimal","Washington Post", January 16, 2005] Glass's Symphony #7
* [ Charles MacGrath, "A Portraitist Whose Canvas Is a Piano", "New York Times", April 22, 2005] - A musical portrait of Chuck Close.
* [,,1523417,00.html Andrew Clements, "Glass: "Les Enfants Terribles", Arand/ Cutlip/ Cazalet/ Komar/ Glass/ Padgett/ Sandresky/ Kemensek","The Guardian",16 July 2005]
* [,11712,1568451,00.html Andrew Clements, " Waiting for the Barbarians","The Guardian", September 13, 2005] Glass's most recent opera.
* [ "Philip Glass opera gets ovation", BBC News OnLine, World Edition, September 12, 2005]
* [ Allan Kozinn, "A First Hearing for a Glass Symphony", "New York Times", November 4, 2005] on Symphony #8.
* [ Performance of Glass's Cello Concerto by Julian Lloyd Webber and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Gerard Schwarz.]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Philip Glass — Philip Glass, Dezember 2007 Philip Glass (* 31. Januar 1937 in Baltimore, Maryland) ist ein US amerikanischer Musiker und Komponist. Er gilt zusammen mit Steve Reich, Terry Riley und La Monte Young als Popularisator der Minimal Music und mit John …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Philip Glass — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Philip Glass Philip Glass en diciembre de 2007 Información personal Nacimiento …   Wikipedia Español

  • Philip Glass — (31 de enero de 1937) es un compositor estadounidense de música minimalista. Nació en Baltimore y de niño estudió flauta en el conservatorio Peabody. Más tarde asistió a la escuela de música Julliard, donde empezó a tocar casi exclusivamente el… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Philip Glass — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Glass. Philip Glass Philip Glass …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Philip Glass — ➡ Glass * * * …   Universalium

  • Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread — is a short play by David Ives, imitating composer Philip Glass s minimalist style; that is to say that comparatively few words and ideas are repeated many times throughout the work. The structure of this piece is closest to a rap or musical… …   Wikipedia

  • Philip Glass Ensemble — Pays d’origine  États Unis Genre musical musique contemporaine Années d activité depuis …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Philip Glass Ensemble — The Philip Glass Ensemble is a musical group founded by composer Philip Glass in 1968 to serve as a performance outlet for his experimental minimalist music. The Ensemble s instrumentation became a hallmark of Glass early minimalist style. After… …   Wikipedia

  • Ensemble Philip Glass — Philip Glass Ensemble Philip Glass Ensemble Pays d’origine  États Unis Genre(s) musique contemporaine Années actives depuis …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Liste des compositions de Philip Glass — La liste suivante représente les compositions de Philip Glass. Pour la description de ces œuvres, suivez les liens bleus associés et la page Philip Glass. Sommaire 1 Œuvres pour le Philip Glass Ensemble 2 Opéras 3 Opéras de Chambre, musique pour… …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.