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).