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Philip Glass
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Philip Glass


Philip Glass (born January 31, 1937) is an American composer. His music is frequently described as minimalist.

Table of contents
1 Biography
2 Works
3 See also
4 External links


Glass was born in Baltimore, Maryland and studied the flute as a child at the Peabody Conservatory of Music. He then went on to the Juilliard School of Music where he switched to mostly play the keyboard. After studying with Nadia Boulanger and working with Ravi Shankar in France, Glass traveled, mainly for religious reasons, to North India in 1966, where he came in contact with Tibetan refugees. He became a Buddhist, and met Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, in 1972. He is a strong supporter of the Tibetan cause.

It was his work with Ravi Shankar, and his perception of rhythm in Indian music as being entirely additive, that led to his distinctive style. When he returned home he renounced all his earlier Milhaud and Copland-like compositions and began writing austere pieces based on additive rhythms and a sense of time influenced by Samuel Beckett whose work he encountered writing for experimental theater. Finding little sympathy from traditional performers and performance spaces, Glass formed the Philip Glass Ensemble and began performing mainly in art galleries, these galleries being the only real connection between musical minimalism and minimalist visual art. His works grew increasingly less austere and more complex, and in his consideration, not minimalist at all, culminating in Music in Twelve Parts. He then collaborated on the first opera of his trilogy Einstein on the Beach with Robert Wilson. The trilogy was continued with Satyagraha, themed on the early life of Mahatma Ghandi and his experiences in South Africa, and was completed by a powerful vocal and orchestral composition in Akhnaten, which is sung in Akkadian, Biblical Hebrew, Ancient Egyptian and the language of the audience.

Glass's work for theater includes many compositions for the group Mabou Mines, which he co-founded in 1970.

Glass orchestrated some of David Bowie's instrumentals from the albums Low and Heroes in his Low Symphony and Heroes Symphony. He has been prolific throughout his career, and has scored many films, including Godfrey Reggio's experimental documentary film trilogy Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi and Naqoyqatsi; Errol Morris' biopic A Brief History of Time (based on Stephen Hawking's popular physics book), Candyman (based on the Clive Barker work) and Martin Scorsese's Kundun.


These are some of his most memorable works.

See also

External links