Philip Glass (b. January 31, 1937) is an American composer known for his work in Minimalism. He first came to prominence with his experimental opera Einstein on the Beach, and since then has written prolifically for theater, film, and concert hall alike. He also founded and directs the Philip Glass Ensemble, which has produced acclaimed performances and recordings of much of his music.
His music characteristically features repetitive arpeggios and ostinati that slowly evolve and develop harmonically over time. His work in film scores makes him one of the most recognizable and successful composers working today. For the concert stage, he's written 12 symphonies, at least 15 operas, 8 string quartets, and a long list of works for chamber ensembles, orchestra, and solo instruments.
Fun fact: Philip Glass is the first cousin once removed of This American Life host Ira Glass. They've recorded a few conversations for the program, talking about each other's work.
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Works with music by Philip Glass include:
- Beauty and the Beast (1946): Glass set the text from the movie in an operatic version that's meant to be performed in sync with the film.
- Dracula (1931): Glass composed a new original score for the film, to be performed by string quartet.
- Einstein on the Beach
- Fantastic Four (2015)
- The Hours
- Jiro Dreams of Sushi
- Koyaanisqatsi, and the sequels Powaqqatsi and Naqoyqatsi.
- Mishima A Life In Four Chapters
- The Truman Show: the soundtrack features several existing Glass pieces, and the composer has a brief cameo as an audio engineer.
- Watchmen: A track from Koyaanisqatsi is put to good effect in Dr. Manhattan's transformation scene.
- Broken Record: Glass's music is often described as repetitive, part of the influence of Minimalist style.
- Minimalism: Glass's works in the 1960s and 70s are considered among the most important contributions to the genre, but he resists the label as applying to his later works.
- "Sesame Street" Cred: Glass composed a short set of pieces called "The Geometry of Circles" especially for Sesame Street.
- Sincerest Form of Flattery: Averted. Glass explained that he rejected the style of earlier Avant Garde Music composers such as Berio and Stockhausen not because he didn't like it, but because he thought it was so good that there was no point in him trying to do the same style better.