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Philip Glass (born January 31, 1937) is an American composer whose music is
frequently described as minimalist. He was born in Baltimore and studied the
flute as a child at the Peabody Conservatory of Music. He then went on to
the Julliard 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 the
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 his own ensemble and began performing
mainly in art galleries, this 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.
Glass orchestrated some of David Bowie's instrumentals from the albums Low
and Heroes in his Low Symphony and Heroes Symphony. Glass has been prolific
throughout his career, and has scored many films, including Godfrey Reggio's
experimental documentary film Koyaanisqatsi, Errol Morris' biopic A Brief
History of Time (based on Stephen Hawking's popular physics book), and
Martin Scorsese's Kundun.
* Einstein on the Beach (opera, 1976)
* Satyagraha (opera, 1980)
* Glassworks (1982)
* The Photographer (1982)
* Akhnaten (opera, 1983)
* Koyaanisqatsi (film score, 1983)
* Mishima (film score, 1984)
* The making of the representative for Planet 8 (opera, 1985-88)
* Anima Mundi (film score, 1992)
* Orphe (opera, 1993)
* La belle et la bte (opera, 1994)
* The marriages between zones three, four, and five (opera, 1997)
* Heroes Symphony (1997)
* Kundun (film score, 1997)
* Music with Changing Parts
* Music in Twelve Parts
* Hydrogen Jukebox (libretto by Allen Ginsberg)