Philip Glass

Philip Glass

Philip Glass is an esteemed American composer, born on the 31 January, 1937, in Baltimore, Maryland. He has been composing music in a wide array of genres such as Avant-Garde and Jazz, while mostly diverting his resources and energy to classical themes of musical arrangements. Glass had a similar number of diverse musical styles, he has often embraced in his compositions, some of which include the intricate features of ethnic fusion, modern world fusion, keyboards, opera, ballet and chamber music. Glass’s story is one of remarkable character and interest, which never ceases to impress readers, music enthusiasts and the like.

While Glass is often critiqued to have prominent Minimalist elements in his music, he demonstrated much stronger classical frameworks in his music from the outset. The Maryland-born legend drew on his inspirations from classicists such as Wolfgang Mozart and Sebastian Bach, embodying their prolific techniques within his own. Some of his earlier works include a couple of experimental quartets and a stage-play titled Play (1963), arranged in collaboration with renowned theater director, Lee Breuer. Glass left for Paris in 1964, a period that had a considerable impact on his musical thinking. He also met Ravi Shankar in Paris, thereby developing a keen interest in Indian musical techniques. Another important contribution from this period defining Glass’s musical style was a Minimalist piece called Two Pages (1967), a composition that introduced his fondness for repeated time measures well-coordinated with Indian thematic elements. After the inculcation of the Philip Glass Ensemble in 1968, Glass composed in a lot of different realms of production, such as string quartets and piano music. A couple of pieces that the ensemble performed in late 1960s were Music in Similar Motion (1969) and Music with Changing Parts (1970), receiving appreciative audiences. What was perhaps the most promising composition of this period was the four-hour long Music in 12 Parts (1971-74), which effortlessly presented a perfect depiction of the magnificence achieved by Glass’s compositions in the early 1970s.

Following up from another instrumental piece, named Another Look at Harmony (1975–1977), Glass embarked upon his first ever opera production, later referred to as Einstein on the Beach (1976). This work demonstrated an exquisite mix of modern musical arrangements, with new techniques of harmony and sequenced embellishments, which visually uplifted the audiences. This three-part opera was completed by subsequent releases of Satyagraha (1980) and Akhnaten (1983), engulfing symphony, orchestral and vocal elements in to the arrangements. After Einstein on the Beach, though, Glass worked on a few television, film and plays such as The Lost Ones (1975), Mercier and Camier (1979) and Geometry of Circles (1979). After the performances of the three-part opera, a series of vocal works such as Three Songs for Chorus (1984) and  Songs from Liquid Days (1985) were released, in collaboration with singers like Paul Simon and the Kronos Quartet.

In the early 1990s, a shift to symphony music was witnessed after the compositional performances of Violin Concerto No. 1 (1987). Glass was also to collaborate again with Ravi Shankar in the 1990 album featuring chamber music, called Passages. In recent years, Glass has shifted interests between concertos, symphonies and film music, often working together with renowned directors such as David Gordon Green and George Butler. With an astounding sense of musical richness, flexible arrangement patterns and an ever-changing and evolutionary approach, Philip Glass continues to excite fans and audiences with his sensational music to this day.


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