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Philip Glass

January 31, 1937 -
born in Baltimore, MD, composed during the Contemporary period
Philip Glass is recognized as one of the most prominent composers associated with musical minimalism, the other major figures being Steve Reich, Terry Riley, and John Adams. His style is easily recognizable because of its use of repetition, particularly the repetition of small distinctive rhythmic and melodic cells, and its reliance on traditional diatonic harmonies. In some of his early works, like Two Pages (1967), the whole of the piece evolves from a single unit that expands as notes are added. In later works, such as the massive Music in Twelve Parts (1971-1974), expansion comes by lengthening of note values and other inventive processes. Many describe his music in the minimalist vein as mesmerizing; others hear it as numbingly repetitive and devoid of variety in its simplicity. The latter view of his style is itself simplistic and fails to take into account the subtleties and complexities found in the many ways Glass varies and shapes his material. His later styles, since the 1980s, embrace more than just minimalism and include a broad neo-Romanticism, with greater emphasis on melody and more complex harmonies. Glass is one of the most popular and succesful classical composers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, with a broad fan base that includes both rock and classical enthusiasts.

Glass showed early musical talent both on violin and flute. He graduated from the University of Chicago at the age of 19. He enrolled at Juilliard, and had by then rejected serial techniques in favor of more conventional styles, favoring the music of Ives, Copland, and Virgil Thomson. Over the next four years he studied with Persichetti, Milhaud, and Bergsma. He then studied with Nadia Boulanger in Paris, and it was during this two-year period that he met and worked with sitar player Ravi Shankar, who introduced him to Indian music. He was intrigued by its sound and structure and attracted to Asian and Middle Eastern cultures. Eventually, he converted to Tibetan Buddhism. Glass has spoken of how greatly his 1966 visit to India influenced his thinking, both musically and spiritually.

After returning to New York in 1967, Glass struggled financially and worked as a cab driver and plumber while he developed his music. He established the Philip Glass Ensemble in the early '70s. This group consisted of seven players including keyboards, woodwinds, and amplified vocals, and eventually became immensely popular both with fans of rock and the Downtown classical scene. Glass has worked collaboratively with a number of artists, including theatre director Robert Wilson, poet Allen Ginsburg, choreographer Twyla Tharp, and filmmaker Godfrey Reggio.

Glass' monumental opera Einstein on the Beach, a collaboration with Wilson, was staged in 1976 and was his first large-scale triumph, culminating with performances at the Metropolitan Opera House. It has been described as “one of the truly pivotal artworks of our time,” “among the most significant theatrical achievements of the entire post-World War II period.” It was the first of an important trilogy of biographical operas, the other two being Satygraha (based on Gandhi's struggles in South Africa, 1980) and Akhnaten (based on the 14th century BCE Egyptian pharaoh who introduced monotheism, 1983). Other operas include Orphée and La Belle et la Bête (both based on films by Jean Cocteau), The Voyage (commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera for the 1992 anniversary of Columbus' voyage), The Fall of the House of Usher, In the Penal Colony, and Kepler. Since the early 1980s, he has devoted considerable energy to film scores, which have brought his work to even larger audiences, and have been recognized with numerous prestigious nominations and awards. Among his most notable are Koyaanisqatsi and its sequels Powaqquatsi and Naqoyqatsi (written in close collaboration with Reggio), Kundun, The Hours, and Notes on a Scandal. Glass has also written in traditional Western classical forms, including nine symphonies, five string quartets, two violin concertos, and two piano concertos. ~ Robert Cummings, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography


Track List: Tara Hugo Sings Philip Glass

1. Always Neverwas: Always Neverwas

2. Let The Letter Read You: Let The Letter Read You

3. How Much I Love You: How Much I Love You

4. The New Rule: The New Rule

5. Spinning: Spinning

6. Feeding Frenzy: Feeding Frenzy

7. Streets Of Berlin: Streets Of Berlin

8. A Sip Of Wine: A Sip Of Wine

9. Cabin In The Rockies: Cabin In The Rockies

10. Kabul: Kabul

11. Planctus: Planctus

12. The Night Of Santiago: The Night Of Santiago


Track List: Symphony No 9


Track List: Philip Glass: A Retrospective

Disc 1
Title: Dance 9
Title: Music In Twelve Parts, For Chamber Ensemble
Title: The Building
Title: Façades, For 2 Flutes (or Saxophones) & Strings
Title: The Grid
Disc 2
Title: The Photographer, Music-theatre Piece
Title: Powaqqatsi, Film Score
Title: Low Symphony, For Orchestra
Title: Akhnaten, Opera
Title: Einstein On The Beach, Opera

Track List: Philip Glass: Dracula

Title: Dracula, Film Score For String Quartet

1. Dracula, Film Score For String Quartet: Dracula

2. Dracula, Film Score For String Quartet: Journey To The Inn

3. Dracula, Film Score For String Quartet: The Inn

4. Dracula, Film Score For String Quartet: The Crypt

5. Dracula, Film Score For String Quartet: Carriage Without A Driver

6. Dracula, Film Score For String Quartet: The Castle

7. Dracula, Film Score For String Quartet: The Drawing Room

8. Dracula, Film Score For String Quartet: Excellent, Mr. Renfield

9. Dracula, Film Score For String Quartet: The Three Consorts Of Dracula

10. Dracula, Film Score For String Quartet: The Storm

11. Dracula, Film Score For String Quartet: Horrible Tragedy

12. Dracula, Film Score For String Quartet: London Fog

13. Dracula, Film Score For String Quartet: In The Theatre

14. Dracula, Film Score For String Quartet: Lucy's Bitten

17. Dracula, Film Score For String Quartet: In His Cell

18. Dracula, Film Score For String Quartet: When The Dream Comes

19. Dracula, Film Score For String Quartet: Dracula Enters

21. Dracula, Film Score For String Quartet: Women In White

22. Dracula, Film Score For String Quartet: Renfield In The Drawing Room

23. Dracula, Film Score For String Quartet: Dr. Van Helsing And Dracula

24. Dracula, Film Score For String Quartet: Mina On The Terrace

25. Dracula, Film Score For String Quartet: Mina's Bedroom/the Abbey

26. Dracula, Film Score For String Quartet: The End Of Dracula


Track List: Cluster Ensemble Plays Philip Glass

Disc 1

1. Two Pages: Two Pages

2. Music In Fifths, For Ensemble: Music In Fifths

Disc 2

3. Music In Contrary Motion, For Organ: Music In Contrary Motion

4. Music In Similar Motion: Music In Similar Motion

Disc 3

5. Music With Changing Parts, For Ensemble: Music With Changing Parts


Track List: Glass: Symphony No. 9


Track List: Philip Glass & Jeroen Van Veen, Piano Works

Title: Metamorphosis, For Piano

1. Metamorphosis, For Piano: Metamorphosis 1

2. Metamorphosis, For Piano: Metamorphosis 2

3. Metamorphosis, For Piano: Metamorphosis 3

4. Metamorphosis, For Piano: Metamorphosis 4

5. Metamorphosis, For Piano: Metamorphosis 5

Title: Mad Rush, For Piano (Or Organ)

6. Mad Rush, For Piano (Or Organ): Mad Rush

Title: Wichita Vortex Sutra, For Piano

7. Wichita Vortex Sutra, For Piano: Wichita Vortex Sutra

Title: Glassworks, Pieces (6) For Chamber Ensemble Or Piano

8. Glassworks, Pieces (6) For Chamber Ensemble Or Piano: Opening

Title: In Again Out Again

9. In Again Out Again: In Again Out Again


Track List: Philip Glass: Prophecies (Music from Einstein on the Beach & Koyaanisqatsi)

Title: Einstein On The Beach, Opera

1. Einstein On The Beach, Opera: Trial

Title: Koyaanisquatsi, Film Score

2. Koyaanisquatsi, Film Score: Prophecies

Title: Einstein On The Beach, Opera

3. Einstein On The Beach, Opera: Night Train

4. Einstein On The Beach, Opera: Knee Play 5


Track List: Philip Glass: Symphony No. 8, Duos Nos. 1-5, Harpsichord Concerto

Title: Symphony No. 8
Title: Duos Nos. 1-5, For Violin & Cello

4. Duos Nos. 1-5, For Violin & Cello: Duo No. 1

5. Duos Nos. 1-5, For Violin & Cello: Duo No. 1a

6. Duos Nos. 1-5, For Violin & Cello: Duo No. 2

7. Duos Nos. 1-5, For Violin & Cello: Duo No. 3

8. Duos Nos. 1-5, For Violin & Cello: Duo No. 4

Title: Harpsichord Concerto


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benjamincask e y 0 2
His music keeps me at peace
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Woahh!!! This is beautiful!!! So beautiful
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Good show.
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This dude I pretty damn awesome!
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thelittlebar d
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There are moments in life that take your breath away this is one of those moments listening to Phillip Glass's, The Hours Film Score. Philip's music allows my heart to sing and go into a state of pure blitz, it is mesmerizing and magical ... Parisgirl122 9
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I was introduced to Philip Glass this year by my english teacher and I am forever grateful. His music helps me think. I wish I could say something grander about his music but I don't want to limit it to just a few words that wouldn't be able to describe the feelings his music makes me feel.
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Philip Glass is one of my favorite composers along with J.H. Bach. I saw P.G. and the P.G. ensemble in Berkeley, California playing the score of Koyaanisqats i ! ! With the movie playing on a huge screen behind the whole ensemble!!! They were amazing to watch... a fantastic concert indeed.
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I frist heard Philip Glass at 17 and still love him in my 40's .The best gift a boy ever gave me was to play the photographer for me.
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Love it so exciting yet sad in a way
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I love Philip Glass his amazing and awesome
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So peaceful and calming! My soul is thankful for this beautiful music.
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isn't this in the movie "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"?
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I love listening to classical music like his works while I'm working on school work(;(;(;
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Correction to biography: the composer is John Cage not John Adams...
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Thing about Glass is he gets going and doesn't seem to know when to get off it. . .
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I wish his soundtrack for The Illusionist was on here! Although his works do sound very similar to each other, it still is emotional and makes my hair stand on end.
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Very nice
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Why does the listing describe this as Symphony #9 and the album cover graphic clearly shows Symphony #8? Which is right?
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I know I am late on the scene but in response to the Grant Kusick comment, the reason he is similar is because he practices the minimalism style of composing. He's composes in the same way piccaso paints he takes a complex idea and reduces it to the smallest form of original conception.
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Love his music
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30 years after being introduced to him and I still love it
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I thought his music was pretty (and good background music) until I realized it all sounded the same. Kind of sad.
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i told myself i wouldn't cry.....
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Excellent for a film score, as it makes good background music. I suppose it helps move people used to the endless repetitive structure of contemporary music into classical. However, his works are all painfully lacking in variety. The melodies are often nice, but the harmonic structures are far too basic and again, the music far too repetitive to hold interest for very long. His repertoire, while large, is decidedly unvaried, almost every piece features the same plodding tempo and style.
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thanks for the heads-up and thumbs-up on Kundun. I didn't even know there was a a movie out there about the Dalai Lama! I have been fortunate to see him twice in my life (once in May when we were staying at the same hotel - WOW!). I LUV his philisophy, his graciousness , but most of all his absolute belief that we are all equal...
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sylvia_battl e
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It took me a while to fully appreciate his work; and now that I do, I find it completely mesmorizing. One of my favorite films, Kundun, features a beautiful score by Philip Glass...I recommend it highly, both for the story of the Dalai Lama's life and childhood in Tibet, as well as the music within.
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Beautiful. Simply beautiful. Reminiscent of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells...I just found P.G. on Pandora and am glad I did. I feel as though I should have found him ages ago....
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Phil Glass is a genius and one of the nicest, least pretentious artists I've ever met. His music resonates deeply and turns me inward, like a meditation. I find it uncannily engaging and, like peraltapal, somehow encouraging.
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I love this!!
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Very beautiful indeed!
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There's something about his music that I find inspiring as i create words and paragraphs and stories. Not intrusive but encouraging.
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Every time I hear something he composed, I think, "Man, that's amazing! Who is it? Oh...Philip Glass. Makes sense." :)
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wow, this guy is comparable to Bach? that's quite impressive. ^_^
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One of my favorite cuts of Glass is from the Mishima soundtrack - a brief moment with guitar, bass, and drums swinging the main theme after several orchestral reiterations . Be nice to hear more stuff like that, though Songs From Liquid Days had some similarly neat moments.
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There is a cool aphex twin mix of Heroes by David Bowie, and Heroes symphony. Three of my favorite musicians!
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Powaggatsi is one of the most unusual CD's I've ever heard. So interesting and love the energy. Love this composers.
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As i listened to this piece, I noticed tears rolling down my cheeks.
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His score for Twila Tharp's "In The Upper Room" was phenomenal
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Sometimes Glass is interesting or relaxing, and sometimes he is maddeningly repetitive. Enjoyed performances of his work by Kronos Quartet, and the Low Symphony (based on music by Bowie and Eno) much more than his solo concert.
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Love his work in the movie the Illusionist
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I had the privilege to see his opera Waiting for the Barbarians (based on the Coetzee novel) when it debuted, intrigued by the space he created for the audience to truly experience the work. I found him again as a subject in a Chuck Close exhibition, his expression conveying a mind apparently flowing out and over the viewer. He tells his own truth, it seems.
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I ran across Phillip Glass while looking for musicians that influenced Frank d I'm glad that I did!
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Phillip Glass sounds quite a lot like the other minimalist composers like John Adams and Steve Reich, I'm surprised that the Genome project doesn't link them better.
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