Philip Glass

Philip Glass

Born in Baltimore on January 31, 1937, Philip Glass discovered music in his father's radio repair shop. In addition to servicing radios, Ben Glass carried a line of records and, when certain ones sold poorly, he would take them home and play them for his three children, trying to discover why they didn't appeal to customers. These happened to be recordings of the great chamber works, and the future composer rapidly became familiar with Beethoven quartets, Schubert sonatas, Shostakovich symphonies and other music then considered 'offbeat.' It was not until he was in his upper teens did Glass begin to encounter more 'standard' classics.Glass began the violin at six and became serious about music when he took up the flute at eight. But by the time he was 15, he had become frustrated with the limited flute repertoire as well as with musical life in post-war Baltimore. During his second year in high school, he applied for admission to the University of Chicago, passed and, with his parent's encouragement, moved to Chicago where he supported himself with part-time jobs waiting tables and loading airplanes at airports. He majored in mathematics and philosophy, and in off hours practiced piano and concentrated on such composers as Ives and Webern.At 19, Glass graduated from the University of Chicago, determined to become a composer, moved to New York and the Juilliard School. By then he had abandoned the 12-tone techniques he had been using in Chicago and preferred American composers like Aaron Copland and William Schuman.By the time he was 23, Glass had studied with Vincent Persichetti, Darius Milhaud, and William Bergsma. He had rejected serialism and preferred such maverick composers as Harry Partch, Ives, Moondog, Henry Cowell, and Virgil Thomson, but he still had not found his own voice. Still searching, he moved to Paris and two years of intensive study under Nadia Boulanger.In Paris, he was hired by a filmmaker to transcribe the Indian music of Ravi Shankar in notation readable to French musicians. In the process, he discovered the techniques of Indian music. Glass promptly renounced his previous music. After researching music in North Africa, India, and the Himalayas, returned to New York, and began applying Eastern techniques to his own work.By 1974, he had composed a large collection of new music, not only for use by the theater company Mabou Mines (Glass was one of the co-founders of the company), but mainly for his own performing group, the Philip Glass Ensemble. This period culminated in Music in 12 Parts, a three-hour summation of Glass' new music, and reached its apogee in 1976 with the Philip Glass/Robert Wilson opera Einstein on the Beach, the 4-1/2 hour epic now seen as a landmark in 20th-century music-theater. This work, the first in Glass's 'portrait' trilogy, was followed by Satyagraha, created for the Netherlands Opera in 1980, and Akhnaten, for the Stuttgart Opera in 1984. Other operas and music theatre works include The Photographer (1980), the CIVIL warS (1984), The Juniper Tree (1986), The Making of the Representative for Planet 8 (1988), The Fall of the House of Usher (1988), Hydrogen Jukebox (1990), The Voyage (1992) commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera in honor of Columbus and, most recently, a chamber opera Orphée (1993) based on the film by Jean Cocteau.Philip Glass is also known for his collaborations with some of the major figures in today's dance world, including Twyla Tharp and Lucinda Childs (A Descent into the Maelstrom, In the Upper Room). In 1988, Glass made his directing debut with the science fiction music drama 1000 Airplanes on the Roof, written with David Henry Hwang. He has also composed music for an eclectic group of films, including Gedfrey Reggio's "Koyaanisqatsi" and "Powaqqatsi," Paul Schrader's "Mishima," and two documentaries by Errol Morris: "The Thin Blue Line" and "A Brief History of Time."In addition, there is a large body of concert works including five String Quartets; a Violin Concerto (1987) commissioned by the American Composer's Orchestra (Glass's first large-scale score for conventional orchestra without voices); a tone poem The Light (1987), commissioned by the Cleveland Orchestra; Itaipú (1988) commissioned by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus; The Canyon (1988), the third of Glass's 'portraits of nature,' commissioned by the Rotterdam Philharmonic; and most recently the Low Symphony (1933), based on musical motifs from the David Bowie/Brian Eno 1977 recording, "Low." Recent projects include Monsters of Grace, a collaboration with Robert Wilson, and a new score for the Cocteau film La Belle et La Bête.Among the composer's varied activities is the Philips' label, Point Music, which released the highly successful recording by Dennis Russell Davies and the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra of the Low Symphony (1993). Other recordings of his works are available primarily on Nonesuch. Source: schirmer.com
What came to me as a revelation was the use of rhythm in developing an overall structure in music.More Philip Glass quotes [08/19/2011 08:08:10]
My biggest problem about writing is whenever I write piano pieces, because I then have to learn to play them, which is sometimes not so easy.More Philip Glass quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]
What came to me as a revelation was the use of rhythm in developing an overall structure in music.More Philip Glass quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]
You practice and you get better. It's very simple.More Philip Glass quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]
Traditions are imploding and exploding everywhere - everything is coming together, for better or worse, and we can no longer pretend were all living in different worlds because were on different continents.More Philip Glass quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]

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