More traditional harmonies entered his work with the opera Einstein on the Beach (1976), which Glass wrote with Robert Wilson; a work 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. During the ensuing years Glass's work has become more complex and varied. His best-known works are his operas; Satyagraha (1980), Akhnaten (1984), The Fall of the House of Usher (1988), Hydrogen Jukebox (1990, a collaboration with Allen Ginsberg), The Voyage (1992), and La Belle et la Běte (1994, composed for Jean Cocteau's film) followed Einstein. Three had their American debuts in 2001—The Marriages between Zones 3, 4 and 5 (1997); the epic White Raven (1998), another collaboration with Robert Wilson; and the smaller-scale In the Penal Colony (2001), based on the Franz Kafka short story. Later operas are Galileo Galilei (2002); Waiting for the Barbarians (2005), based on a novel by J. M. Coetzee; and Appomattox (2007), which dramatizes the American Civil War's last weeks and its aftermath. Glass's other compositions include symphonies, concertos, string quartets, songs, and film scores. Glass's work has been extremely influential in the development of a new generation of composers.
See his Music by Philip Glass (1987); R. Kostelanetz, ed., Writings on Glass (1997); Philip Glass: Looking Glass (documentary, 2005).
(born Jan. 31, 1937, Baltimore, Md., U.S.) U.S. composer. He studied mathematics and philosophy at the University of Chicago and then studied composition at the Juilliard School and with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. His later studies with the Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar in 1966 and the tabla player Alla Rakha produced a radical shift in his compositional style. He became the leading exponent of musical “minimalism,” employing insistently repeated notes and chords, subtly shifting timbres, and blocklike harmonic progressions without contrapuntal voice leading. He achieved fame suddenly with the opera Einstein on the Beach (1975) and went on to write more than 20 operas, including Satyagraha (1980), Akhnaten (1984), and The Voyage (1992). His other works include many film scores, such as Koyaanisqatsi (1983) and The Thin Blue Line (1988), and the recordings Glassworks (1981) and Songs from Liquid Days (1986). He collaborated with a wide range of writers, artists, and musicians, including Robert Wilson, Allen Ginsberg, Doris Lessing, David Bowie, and Paul Simon. Glass's work appealed to fans of rock and popular music, and at the turn of the 21st century he was perhaps the world's most famous living composer.
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