Philip Glass

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Philip Glass
Philip Morris Glass
BirthplaceBaltimore, Maryland, United States

Glass, Philip,

1937–, American composer, b. Baltimore. Considered one of the most innovative of contemporary composers, he was a significant figure in the development of minimalismminimalism,
schools of contemporary art and music, with their origins in the 1960s, that have emphasized simplicity and objectivity. Minimalism in the Visual Arts
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 in music. Glass attended the Univ. of Chicago, Juilliard (M.A., 1962) and studied (1964–66) with Nadia BoulangerBoulanger, Nadia
, 1887–1979, French conductor and musician, b. Paris. Boulanger was considered an outstanding teacher of composition. She studied at the Paris Conservatory, where in 1945 she became professor.
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 in Paris. There he also met Indian musicians Ravi ShankarShankar, Ravi
(Robindra Shankar Chowdhury), 1920–2012, Indian sitarist and composer, b. Varanasi. He was the first Indian instrumentalist to attain an international reputation and is credited with introducing traditional Indian music to the West.
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 and Alla Rakha, whose music was to influence his own compositions strongly. In 1968 he formed the Philip Glass Ensemble, a small group that employs electronically amplified instruments. During the 1970s he became known for music that blended standard notation and tonality with electronics. These lengthy and highly rhythmic compositions employ a number of phrases that are repeated and slowly modified during the music's course. The purest form of this style is represented in the four-hour-long Music in 12 Parts (1971–74).

More traditional harmonies entered his music with the opera Einstein on the Beach (1976), a work written with Robert WilsonWilson, Robert,
1941–, dramatist, director, and designer, b. Waco, Tex. He began his arts career as a painter. A leading figure in postmodern theater since 1963, when he arrived in New York City, he has created lengthy, often controversial multimedia events that combine
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 that introduced the minimalist style to a mass audience and paved the way for a wider acceptance of contemporary opera. The meditative Einstein is without narrative plot and blends light, image, and sound as well as dance, words, and music into a hypnotic whole. Glass's work since has become more complex and varied. His more than two dozen operas have become his best-known compositions; Satyagraha (1980), Akhnaten (1984), The Fall of the House of Usher (1988), Hydrogen Jukebox (1990, a collaboration with Allen GinsbergGinsberg, Allen
, 1926–97, American poet, b. Paterson, N.J., grad. Columbia, 1949. An outspoken member of the beat generation, Ginsberg is best known for Howl (1956), a long poem attacking American values in the 1950s.
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), The Voyage (1992), and La Belle et la Bête (1994, composed for CocteauCocteau, Jean
, 1889–1963, French writer, visual artist, and filmmaker. He experimented audaciously in almost every artistic medium, becoming a leader of the French avant-garde in the 1920s.
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's film) followed Einstein. Three more had their American debuts in 2001—The Marriages between Zones 3, 4 and 5 (1997); the epic White Raven (1998), another collaboration with Wilson; and the smaller-scale In the Penal Colony (2001), based on KafkaKafka, Franz
, 1883–1924, German-language novelist, b. Prague. Along with Joyce, Kafka is perhaps the most influential of 20th-century writers. From a middle-class Jewish family from Bohemia, he spent most of his life in Prague.
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's short story. Later operas are Galileo Galilei (2002); Waiting for the Barbarians (2005), based on a CoetzeeCoetzee, J. M.
(John Maxwell Coetzee) , 1940–, South African novelist, b. John Michael Coetzee. Educated at the Univ. of Cape Town (M.A. 1963) and the Univ. of Texas (Ph.D.
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 novel; Appomattox (2007, rev. 2015); Kepler (2009); The Perfect American (2013), a surreal portrait of Walt DisneyDisney, Walt
(Walter Elias Disney) , 1901–66, American movie producer and pioneer in animated cartoons, b. Chicago. He grew up in Missouri, in the small town of Marceline and in Kansas City.
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 during his final days; and Drowning (2019), based on a five-page play by María Irene FornésFornés, María Irene,
1930–2018, Cuban-American playwright and director; she emigrated from Cuba with her family after her father's death in 1945. An early experimental work, Promenade
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. Glass's other compositions include a dozen symphonies, concertos, string quartets, songs, a piano sonata, and film scores, e.g., the harmonically lush music for Koyaanisqatsi (1982), and a string quartet for a Broadway production of King Lear (2019). Glass's work has been extremely influential in the development of a new generation of composers.


See his Music by Philip Glass (1987) and his memoir Words without Music (2015); R. Kostelanetz, ed., Writings on Glass (1997); Philip Glass: Looking Glass (documentary, 2005).

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Glass, Philip

(1937–  ) composer; born in Baltimore, Md. After composition studies at Juilliard, Glass went to Paris in 1964 to study with Nadia Boulanger and later spent time in India studying that culture's traditions. Back in New York in the late 1960s, he organized a group to play his stripped-down, relentlessly repetitive music that was dubbed (along with that of Steve Reich and others) "minimalist." With works including his opera Einstein on the Beach (1976), Glass gained a large following, many from the ranks of rock fans.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
BLOOD ORANGE--My favorite Philip Glass work is Songs from Liquid Days.
"I really think this will surprise a lot of people who think they know Philip Glass.
"Kyoko's House" is often used as a background theme in This American Life, the weekly radio program whose silver fox producer/host, Ira Glass, is Philip Glass' first cousin once removed.
By 1974, Glass had a number of significant and innovative projects, creating a large collection of new music for his performing group, The Philip Glass Ensemble, and for the Mabou Mines Theatre Company, which he co-founded.
In 1977, a year after her arrival in the U.S., she first appeared in Douglas Dunn's Celesta, and was influenced by minimalism and the loft and downtown scenes as well as the landmark Einstein on the Beach by Robert Wilson and Philip Glass. From Japan she already had a passionate and innate sense of politics.
Roland Barthes was fond of Mapplethorpe's 1976 portrait of Philip Glass and Robert Wilson in which they both wear jeans, Glass' pair comfortably faded, Wilson's darker and newer.
During one of the low notes in Philip Glass' beautiful String Quartet No.
There are reproductions, as well, of works by Philip Guston and Willem de Kooning, whose names, because uttered by the artist, along with those of Philip Glass and (surprisingly) Anselm Kiefer, are printed big so that they jump off the page like red passages in scripture.
Twyla Tharp's exhilarating In the Upper Room, set to propulsive music by Philip Glass, is a dance trip you can never get enough of.
Each of the 12 parts, including some sung by mezzo Susana Poretsky, varied in tone and dynamic, at times evoking Philip Glass, a czardas, Stravinsky, a mass.
Ambient has an elite ancestry in the electronic avant-garde of Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and La Monte Young, and a cheesy one in early-'70s German art-rock, like Can and Tangerine Dream.
The ballet, which juxtaposes dancers in sneakers and pointe shoes, ponytails and French twists, pulses with aerobic energy and the rhythmic drive of its Philip Glass score.