Glass, Philip 1937-
GLASS, Philip 1937-
PERSONAL: Born January 31, 1937, in Baltimore, MD; son of Benjamin C. (a record shop owner) and Ida (Gouline) Glass; married Jo Anne Akalaitis (a theater director; divorced); married Linda Burtyk, 1980 (divorced); married Candy Jernigan (an artist and set designer), 1991 (died, 1991); married Holly Critchlow; children: (first marriage) Juliet, Zachary; (fourth marriage) Cameron. Education: University of Chicago, A.B., 1956; Juilliard School of Music, M.S., 1964; studied composition with Nadia Boulanger in Paris, France, 1964-66; also studied with Indian performers Ravi Shankar and Alla Rakha.
CAREER: Composer, musician, director, screenwriter, and performer. Composer-in-residence, Pittsburgh Public Schools, 1962-64; founder and electric organist, Philip Glass Ensemble, performing original music in concert tours throughout United States and Europe, 1968—; founder, Chatham Square Productions (record company), 1972; resident composer, Tyrone Guthrie Theatre, Minneapolis, MN, 1985-86. Also worked as a taxicab driver.
Film work: Music supervisor and transcriptionist, Chappaqua, Regional, 1967; music director, Koyaanisqatsi, New Yorker, 1982; dramaturgical consultant,
Powaqqatsi, Cannon, 1988; director, Anima Mundi (documentary short film; also known as The Soul ofthe World), 1991; creative musical supervisor and musical supervisor, Closet Land, Universal, 1991; song arranger, Exposure, 1991.
Film appearances: Four American Composers, Trans Atlantic Films, 1983; narrator, A Composer's Notes: Philip Glass and the Making of an Opera (Akhnaten), Michael Blackwell Productions, 1985; Robert Wilson and the CIVIL warS (documentary), Unisphere, 1987; music performer, Christo in Paris (documentary), 1990; as himself, The Nova Convention Revisited (also known as The Nova Convention Revisited: William S. Burroughs and the Arts), [video], 1998; keyboard artist, The Truman Show, Paramount, 1998.
Television appearances: "Einstein on the Beach: The Changing Image of Opera," Great Performances, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), 1986; Timeless Voices: The Gyuto Monks, Discovery Channel, 1989; Edgar Allan Poe: Terror of the Soul, PBS, 1995; Sessions at West 54th, PBS, 1997; Chuck Close: A Portrait in Progress, PBS, 1998; interviewee, Lou Reed: Rock and Roll Heart, PBS, 1998.
Director of opera 1000 Airplanes on the Roof, produced at Vienna International Airport, Vienna Austria, 1987. Appeared on stage in Grace for Grace, produced at Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York, NY, 1991.
MEMBER: American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers; SACEM (France).
AWARDS, HONORS: Broadcast Music Industry Award, 1960; Lado Prize, 1961; Benjamin Award, 1961 and 1962; Young Composer's Award, Ford Foundation, 1964-66; Fulbright Composition grant, 1966-67; Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts award, 1970-71; National Endowment for the Arts grant, 1974-75; Menil Foundation award, 1974; Obie Awards, special citations, 1975-76, for Mabou Mines Performs Samuel Beckett, and 1977-78, for Einstein on the Beach; Los Angeles Film Critics Association award, best music, 1983, for Koyaanisqatsi; named Musician of the Year, Musical American, 1985; Cannes International Film Festival award for best artistic contribution to a full-length film, 1985, for Mishima; Musician of the Year, Musical America magazine, 1985; named Lion of the Performing Arts, New York Public Library, 1987; Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award, Academy Award nomination, best original score, and Golden Globe nomination, 1997, all for Kundun; Golden Globe Award, best original score—motion picture, 1998, for The Truman Show; Academy Award nomination, best original score, 2002, for The Hours.
Music by Philip Glass, Harper (New York, NY), 1987; new edition, with supplement published as Opera on the Beach: On His New World of Music Theatre, 1988.
composer of musical stage pieces
Music for Voices, produced at Mabou Mines Theatre, 1970.
Mabou Mines Performs Samuel Beckett, produced at Theatre for the New City, New York, NY, 1975.
Einstein on the Beach (opera), produced in Avignon, France, and throughout Europe, 1976; produced at Metropolitan Opera House, New York, NY, 1976; international tour, 1976; album, Nonesuch, 1993.
Dressed Like an Egg, produced at New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theatre, New York, NY, 1977.
Dead End Kids, produced at New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theatre, New York, NY, 1980.
Satyagraha (opera), produced in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 1980; album, CBS Records, 1985; DVD, Image Entertainment, 2001.
The Panther, produced in 1980.
The Photographer: Far from the Truth (opera), produced in 1982; produced in New York, NY, 1983; album, CBS Records, 1983.
(With Robert Wilson and Maita di Discemi) the CIVIL warS: a tree is best measured when it is down, produced in 1982; adapted as a documentary, Unisphere, 1987; album, the CIVIL warS: a tree is best measured when it is down: Act V, The Rome Section, Nonesuch, 1999.
Samuel Beckett's Company, produced at New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theatre, New York, NY, 1983.
Cold Harbor, produced at New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theatre, New York, NY, 1983.
Glass Pieces (ballet from Glassworks and Akhnaten), produced by New York City Ballet, New York State Theatre, New York, NY, 1983.
(Composer of opening and closing music) Suzanna Andler, produced at South Street Theatre, New York, NY, 1984.
(Composer of incidental music) Endgame, produced by American Repertory Theatre, Cambridge, MA, 1984.
Akhnaten (opera), produced at Wurttemberg State Theatre, Wurttemberg, West Germany, 1984; album, CBS Records, 1987.
(With Robert Moran and Arthur Yorinks) The Juniper Tree, produced by American Repertory Theatre, Cambridge, MA, 1985.
"A Madrigal Opera," An Evening of Micro-Operas, produced at Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles, CA, 1985.
(With Matthew Maguire and Molissa Fenley) Descent into the Maelstrom (theatre and dance piece; based on the Edgar Allan Poe story of the same name), Australian Dance Theatre, 1985; album, Orange Mountain Music, 2002.
The Making of the Representative for Planet 8 (threeact opera; based on the novel by Doris Lessing), produced in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Houston, TX, Kiel, West Germany, and London, England, 1985-86.
One Thousand Airplanes on the Roof (opera; produced at Vienna International Airport, Vienna, Austria, 1987; produced at Beacon Theatre, New York, NY, 1988; album, Virgin, 1989), Gibbs-Smith (Salt Lake City, UT), 1989.
The Light, produced in Cleveland, OH, 1987.
The Fall of the House of Usher (two-act opera; based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe), produced by the Kentucky Opera and the American Repertory Theatre, Cambridge, MA, 1988.
Cymbeline, produced at New York Shakespeare Festival, Public/Newman Theatre, New York, NY, 1989.
Itaipu, produced in Atlanta, GA, 1989; album, Itaipu/The Canyon, Sony, 1993.
Henry IV, Part I, produced at Public/Newman Theatre, New York, NY, 1991.
The Voyage (opera), produced at Metropolitan Opera House, 1992.
The Mysteries and What's So Funny?, produced at Joyce Theatre, New York, NY, 1992-93.
Orphee (opera), produced at the American Repertory Theatre, Cambridge, MA, 1992-93.
Woyzeck, produced at Public/Newman Theatre, New York, NY, 1992-93.
In the Summer House, produced at Vivian Beaumont Theatre, New York, NY, 1993.
Symphony No. 2, produced in New York, NY, 1994.
La Belle et la bete (opera), produced at the Next Wave Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York, NY, 1994; album, Nonesuch, 1995.
Prisoner of Love, New York Theatre Workshop, New York, NY, 1995.
Les Enfants terribles, produced in 1996.
Marriages between Zones Three, Four, and Five (opera; based on the work of Doris Lessing), produced in Heidelberg, Germany, 1997.
Monsters of Grace (opera), produced at Barbican Theatre, New York, NY, 1997.
White Raven, produced in Lisbon, Portugal, 1998; produced at Lincoln Centre, New York, NY, 2001.
In the Penal Colony, produced in 2000.
Galileo Galilei, produced at the Next Wave Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music, 2002.
Music for the Elephant Man, produced in 2002.
The Sound of a Voice (based on two one-act plays by David Hwang), produced at American Repertory Theatre, Cambridge, MA, 2003.
other musical pieces and sound recordings
String Quartet, 1966.
Brass Sextet, Mills Music, 1966.
In Again out Again (for two pianos), 1967.
One Plus One (for amplified tabletop), 1967.
Music in the Shape of a Square, 1967; album titled Alter Ego—Music in the Shape of a Square, Stradivarius, 2001.
Strung Out, 1967.
Arioso, String Orchestra, No. 2, Elkan-Vogel, 1967.
Red Horse Animation, 1968.
How Now, 1968.
Two Pages, 1968.
Music in Contrary Motion, 1969.
Music in Eight Parts, 1969.
Music in Fifths, 1969.
Music in Similar Motion, 1969.
Music with Changing Parts, 1970; album, Nonesuch, 1994.
Music in Twelve Parts, Dischi Ricordi, 1971-74, None-such, 1996.
Another Look at Harmony, 1975.
The Lost Ones, 1975.
The Saint and the Football Player, 1975.
Knee Play No. 3, 1976.
Strung Out: For Amplified Violin, Dunvagen, 1976.
Modern Love Waltz, 1977.
North Star: Mark Di Suvero, Virgin, 1977, CBS Records, 1977.
Fourth Series Part I, 1978.
Music for a Performance/Reading by C. DeJong: Fourth Series, Part II, 1978.
Mercier and Camier, 1979.
Mad Rush: Fourth Series, Part III, 1979.
(With Lucinda Childs and Sol LeWitt) Dance (multi-media piece), 1979.
Dance No. 2, 1979.
Dance No. 4, 1979.
Dance Nos. 1 and 3, Tomato, 1980.
Habeve Song, 1982.
Glassworks, CBS Records, 1982.
String Quartet No. 2: Company, 1983.
The Olympian (for chorus and orchestra; used at the opening of the 1984 Olympics), Los Angeles, CA, 1984.
String Quartet No. 3: "Mishima," 1985; album, Chester, 1999.
Songs from Liquid Days, CBS Records, 1986.
Three Songs, 1986.
Kronos Quartet, Company, Nonesuch, 1986.
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, 1987.
Dancepieces, CBS Records, 1987.
Dance Nos. 1-5, Sony, 1988.
The Canyon, 1988; album, Itaipu/The Canyon, Sony, 1993.
String Quartet No. 4: Boczak, 1989.
Solo Piano, CBS Records, 1989, Amsco, 1991.
Songs from the Trilogy, Sony, 1989.
Passages, Private Music, 1990.
Hydrogen Jukebox (based on the poetry of Allen Ginsberg), 1990; album, Nonesuch, 1993.
The Screens, Point Music, 1992.
Concerto for Three Ensembles, Dunvagen, 1992.
Low Symphony, Point Music, 1993.
Donald Joyce, Glass Organ Works, Catalyst, 1993.
Gidon Kremer, Violin Concerto, Deutsche Grammophon, 1993.
The Essential Philip Glass, Sony, 1993.
Echorus for Two Solo Violins & String Orchestra, 1994.
Two Pages/Contrary Motion/Music in Fifths/Music in Similar Motion, Nonesuch, 1994.
Jenipapo (also see below), 1995.
Melodies for Saxophone, 1995.
Symphony No. 3, 1995.
Kronos Quartet, String Quartets 2-5, Nonesuch, 1995.
T.E.C.C. Quartet, String Quartets 4-5, Beoton, 1996.
Heroes Symphony (based on the David Bowie album Heroes), 1996; album, Point Music, 1997.
Songs of Milarepa, 1997.
Days and Nights in Rocinha, 1997.
Glassmasters, Sony, 1997.
Symphony No. 2/Interlude from Orphee/Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra, Nonesuch, 1998.
Arturo Stalteri, Circles, Materiali Sonori MASO, 1998.
Etudes for Piano, 1999; album titled Etudes for Piano, Volume 1, Orange Mountain Music, 2003.
String Quartet No. 5, Chester, 1999.
Jay Gottlieb, Piano Music, Pianovox, 1999.
Dance No. 2 for Organ, Chester Music, 1999.
Robert McDuffie, Violin Concerto, Telarc, 1999.
The Civil Wars, Rome Section, Nonesuch, 1999.
Aguas da Amazonia, Point Music, 1999.
Jeroen Van Veen, Minimal Piano Works, Piano Productions, 1999.
Concuto Fantasy for 2 Timpanists and Orchestra, 2000.
Symphony No. 5: Requiem, Bardo, Nirmanakaya, Nonesuch, 2000.
Adele Anthony, Violin Concerto/Prelude and Dance from Akhnaten/Company, Naxos, 2000.
Aleck Karis, Piano Music of Philip Glass, Roméo Records, 2000.
Symphony No. 3/Interludes from the Civil Wars/Mechanical Ballet from the Voyage/The Light, Nonesuch, 2000.
Three Songs/Songs from Liquid Days/Vessels, Silva Classics, 2000.
Bruce Brubaker, Glass Cage, Arabesque Recordings, 2000.
Melodes for Saxophone, Chester, 2000.
Symphony No. 6 (Plutonian Ode), 2001.
Voices for Organ, Didgeridoo, & Narrator, 2001.
Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, 2001.
Steffen Schleiermacher, Early Keyboard Music, MDG, 2001.
Music for Organ, Nimbus, 2001.
Philip on Film, Nonesuch, 2001.
Early Voice, Orange Mountain Music, 2002.
Concerto for Harpsichord and Chamber Orchestra, 2002.
Saxophone, Orange Mountain Music, 2002.
Tirol Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Tyrol Tourist Board Special Edition, 2002.
Cello Octen Conjunto Ibérico, Glass Reflections, Ibérico Records, 2002.
Paul Barnes, Orphee Suite for Piano, Orange Mountain Music, 2003.
film score composer, unless otherwise noted
Mark DiSuvero, Sculptor, Parrot Productions, 1977.
Koyaanisqatsi, MGM, 1982; album, Antilles, 1983, Nonesuch, 1998.
Breathless, Orion, 1983.
Four American Composers, Trans Atlantic Films, 1983.
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (also known as Mishima), Warner Bros., 1984; album, Nonesuch, 1985.
A Composer's Notes: Philip Glass and the Making of an Opera (Akhnaten), Michael Blackwell Productions, 1985.
Dead End Kids, Ikon, 1986.
Hamburger Hill, Artisan Entertainment, 1987.
Powaqqatsi, MGM, 1987; album, Nonesuch, 1988.
The Thin Blue Line (documentary), Anchor Bay, 1988; album, Nonesuch, 1989; Music from the Thin Blue Line, Orange Mountain Music, 2003.
(And song composer) La Chiesa (also known as Cathedral of Demons, The Church, Demon Cathedral, Demons 3, and In the Land of the Demons), Cecchi Gori, 1988.
Mindwalk, Paramount, 1990.
Anima Mundi (documentary short film; also known as The Soul of the World), Simitar, 1991; album, Nonesuch, 1993.
(Composer of songs) Exposure, 1991.
Merci, la vie, Orly Films/Cine Valse, 1991.
A Brief History of Time (documentary), Paramount, 1992.
Candyman, Columbia/TriStar, 1992; album titled The Music of Candyman, Orange Mountain Music, 2001.
Compassion in Exile: The Life of the 14th Dalai Lama (documentary), Wellspring, 1992.
Niki de Saint Phalle: Wer ist das Monster-du ode rich? (documentary; also known as Figuren der Freude), [Germany], 1994.
Jenipapo (also known as The Inteview), Boku Films/Ravina Films, 1994.
Candyman II: Farewell to the Flesh, MGM/UA, 1994.
The Secret Agent (also known as Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent), Twentieth Century-Fox, 1996; album, Nonesuch, 1996.
Bent, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1996.
Kundun, Buena Vista, 1997; album, Nonesuch, 1997.
The Astronaut's Wife, New Line Cinema, 1998.
The Truman Show, Paramount, 1998; Milan Records, 1998.
Dracula, Universal, 1998; album, Nonesuch, 1999.
Si je t'aime. Prends garde a toi, Rezo Films, 1998.
The Source (documentary), Calliope Films, 1999.
The Eden Myth, Tuesday Night Movies, 1999.
The Hours, Paramount, 2002; album, Nonesuch, 2002.
(And screenwriter) Naqoyqatsi (documentary), Buena Vista, 2002; album, Sony, 2002.
The Fog of War, Columbia/TriStar, 2003; album, Orange Mountain Music, 2003.
Also composer of music for Geometry of a Circle, 1979, Dialogue, 1986, Christo in Paris (documentary), 1990, Ballad of the Skeletons (short film), 1996, Absence Stronger Than Presence (short documentary film), 1996, Perfect Moment (documentary), 1996, The Man in the Bath, 2001, Diaspora, 2001, Notes, 2001, Passage, 2001, and a new score for Cenere, Ambrosio Film.
music composed for television
High Wire, Public Broadcasting Serve (PBS), 1986.
"Einstein on the Beach: The Changing Image of Opera," Great Performances, PBS, 1986.
"The Thin Blue Line," American Playhouse, PBS, 1988.
Timeless Voices: The Gyuto Monks, The Discovery Channel, 1989.
Peter Jennings Reporting: Guns, American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. (ABC), 1990.
"ConFusion in a Jar," Nova, PBS, 1990.
A Walk through Prospero's Library, 1991.
"The Cask of Amontillado," Edgar Allan Poe: Terror of the Soul, PBS, 1995.
Twyla Tharp: Oppositions, PBS, 1996.
Chuck Close: A Portrait in Progress, PBS, 1998.
Also composer of music for Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre, for choreographers Lar Lubovitch and Lucinda Childs, and for the Olympic Games, Los Angeles, CA, 1984, and Atlanta, GA, 1996.
SIDELIGHTS: Philip Glass is one of the most prolific and best-known avant-garde composers in the United States. His symphonies, operas, and film scores have made Glass known for his repetitive tonal techniques and his innovation within musical genres. With various libretticists, including Robert Wilson and David Henry Hwang, he has changed the face of opera with works such as Einstein on the Beach, Satyagraha, Akhnaten, and The Voyage. Glass's music has been an intricate part of acclaimed motion pictures, including Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi, A Brief History of Time, and The Hours. The composer has written about his works and his musical philosophy in Music by Philip Glass.
Glass, born in Baltimore, Maryland, has been surrounded by music his entire life. His parents owned a record store, from which he brought home records that did not sell—most of which were classical—and played them. Glass's interest in classical music predominated, but he exposed himself to many different types of music. He took flute lessons during his childhood, attended the famed Juilliard School of Music in New York City for his master's degree, and traveled to Paris in order to further his musical studies. While in Paris, Glass met renowned Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar who greatly influenced Glass's compositions. Glass continued to think about Eastern musical forms while traveling through Spain, North Africa, and Asia. He returned to New York and formed the Philip Glass Ensemble, which used wind instruments, keyboards, and other electronic devices to perform his compositions. Glass himself plays the electric organ with the group.
Though he has composed many pieces of music, Einstein on the Beach was Glass's first opera, created in collaboration with Robert Wilson. As the title implies, the work is meant to be a celebration of the life of famed atomic scientist Albert Einstein, but it is an extremely metaphorical celebration. There are images of trains, a scientist writing equations on a blackboard, a trial, and scenes of a white-haired man playing the violin, reportedly something Einstein enjoyed doing to relax. Of Glass's work as a composer on Einstein on the Beach, Nation's Frank Rose remarked, "Unlike most Western composers, he uses rhythm as a base and adds harmony and melody later. His cyclically repeating rhythmic structures," the critic observed, "like Wilson's stage pictures, don't tell a story or lead anywhere in the customary sense, although they do have a powerful momentum." Rose concluded that "by purging their work of most of the conventional ingredients of music and drama, they create the possibility that something revelatory will happen, something transcendent and profound."
In Satyagraha, Glass examines the life of Hindu leader Mohandas Ghandi, focusing on his early experiences. The opera's words, sung in Sanskrit, are taken from the sacred Hindu text the Bhagavad-Gita; most audience members, therefore, must depend upon the visual tableaux presented for meaning. The scenes do, however, follow the subject of the opera more literally than do those of Einstein on the Beach.
Glass worked with Wilson on the CIVIL warS: a tree is best measured when it is down. the CIVIL warS is twelve hours long, and includes characters such as Mary Lincoln, the Earth Mother, Robert E. Lee, Hercules, and a Hopi named Snow Owl. Peter G. Davis of New York, who heard only the fifth act performed, reported that "one critic has already proclaimed the work [as a whole] a masterpiece, with the structural coherency of a Mozart string quartet and the tightly knit musical and verbal images of a Wagner opera." Davis, however, called CIVIL warS "a turkey, one that would not look especially appetizing even with fancy stage dressing."
Glass's Akhnaten, tells the story of the Egyptian pharaoh who temporarily converted his nation to monotheism. Glass also celebrates Akhnaten and his queen, the famed beauty Nefertiti, as the first romantic couple of history. Though much of the opera is sung in ancient languages, including Egyptian and Hebrew, a spoken commentary is provided in the language of the audience. The centerpiece of the opera, the text for which is Akhnaten's actual Sun Hymn, is always translated into the native language of the audience as well. In his Music by Philip Glass, the composer asserts that he chose Akhnaten as an admirable historical figure because the pharaoh "changed his (and our) world through the force of his ideas and not through the force of arms."
Though Paul John Frandsen, reviewing Akhnaten in Musical Quarterly, admitted that his training as an Egyptologist prevented him from completely embracing the opera, he did praise "the 'sound' of the music," and "its repetitive nature." He also noted that these, along with "the fascination with ancient Egypt … do have their attractions." An Opera News critic, discussing an audio recording of Akhnaten, cited the "visionary power" of the Akhnaten as well as "the breadth and sweep of the enterprise." Years after it was first produced, Akhnaten still enraptures audiences. American Record Guide's Peter Catalano wrote, "Choosing Akhnaten as a dramatic subject, adding the staged stylizations, exotic language, and powerful theatrical sensibility, Glass achieves a monumental artistic creation." John Rockwell wrote in the New Republic, "His music sets up a mood that hypnotically seduces one into contemplation."
In the early 1990s Glass was commissioned to write an opera in honor of the five hundredth anniversary of explorer Christopher Columbus's arrival in the New World. Though it did contain some content about Columbus, the resulting opera The Voyage (for which David Henry Hwang provided the libretto) was more concerned with the overall concept of exploration than with Columbus's specific achievement. Scenes of Viking explorers are included, as are scenes of future space travelers and alien contact. One of the characters in The Voyage is a wheelchair-bound scientist modeled on Stephen Hawking, whom Glass met while working on the score for the film version of Hawking's book, A Brief History of Time. Concerns about the ambiguity of modern attitudes toward Columbus—revisionist trends have painted him as everything from a heroic explorer to the man responsible for initiating centuries of exploitation of Native Americans—prompted Glass and Hwang to include what James R. Oestreich in the New York Times Magazine labeled a "poignant epilogue," in which "Columbus's failings are acknowledged, in line with the current widespread devaluation of his achievements, but ultimately resolved in contemplation of the final seductive journey of death." Michael Walsh, reviewing The Voyage in Time, was reserved in his praise of the work, but noted that the work "lowers, thunders and rages—it begins with the same six-note figure that opens Wagner's Die Walküre—vividly reflecting Hawking's visions of terror and wonder and Columbus's dark and stormy night of the soul." Walsh concluded, "If in the end the opera, like its hero, doesn't land where it was headed, sometimes it is indeed better to travel than to arrive."
Another opera Glass has helped to create is The Making of the Representative for Planet 8, which uses the avant-garde science-fiction novel of the same title by Doris Lessing as its libretto. William Albright, reviewing a performance in Opera News, praised its "hypnotic repetition of simple patterns, its harmonies and rhythms enriched by fragrant flowerings of melody." Glass also collaborated with Hwang and set designer Jerome Sirlin on One Thousand Airplanes on the Roof, the story of a man abducted by aliens after walking home a date. M., the protagonist, is the subject of scientific experiments by aliens during his captivity, and though the aliens do their best to make him forget his experience, he struggles to remember it and to inform the world of what has happened. Walsh, in another Time review, hailed the music for One Thousand Airplanes on the Roof as "one of [Glass's] most daring scores. From the arresting opening chords that symbolize the lurking spacemen … to the striking stretch of C-major that underpins poor M.'s longings for a girlfriend." Walsh noted that "this primal scream of angst surges and soars on an electric current of inspiration." Robert Baxter in Opera News judged Glass and his collaborators to have "merged sight, sound and word to create something unique and unforgettable."
In The Sound of a Voice, Glass joined with Hwang once again to bring two one-act operas to the stage, "The Sound of a Voice" and "Hotel of Dreams." The title piece is the story of an aging samurai who runs into a woman thought to be a witch. The second piece tells the story of a writer who develops a relationship with the madam of a brothel. Glass told Karen Campbell of American Theatre that The Sound of a Voice is "a kind of theatrical hybrid, straddling the line between what is traditionally considered opera and what is more commonly considered musical theatre." Richard Dyer of Opera News noted, "Glass writes traditionally and evocatively, with many bent notes and soulful sighings."
Glass's Galileo Galilei, which recounts the famous astronomer's life in reverse order, was met with mixed reviews upon its debut. However, The White Raven, which focuses on the explorations of Vasco da Gama, was better received. Writing in New Criterion, Patrick J. Smith commented, "Glass has, over the years, refined his music-making to a formula that communicates directly to the audience…. At times, he achieves a sort of austere beauty." A writer for the Economist noted, "The composer lulls listeners into thinking that little is changing, while subtly creating constant musical flux…. This confident subversion of what our ears expect is Mr. Glass's secret for remaining fresh."
Some of Glass's operas have used the minimalist tactic of showing the films of French director Jean Cocteau while singers perform a libretto consisting of the dialogue from these films. Glass has done both Cocteau's Orphee and his La Belle et la bete in this manner. La Belle et la bete is the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast. Glass received mixed response for his version of La Belle et la bete; though Davis, in another New York piece, conceded that "the idea" of Glass's treatment "is certainly original," he went on to note that "Glass has produced nothing but ninety minutes of prosy, mechanical patter that both destroys the movie's verbal poetry and undercuts its pictorial fantasy." However, in Time, Walsh observed that "everything comes together seamlessly," and declared that "the restless, relentless energy of the score—tempered, for the first time in Glass's career, by some fetching love music—pulls one into the film in a way that mere background music never could." A writer for the Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales wrote, "As an interpretation of the fairy-tale film, Glass's operatic score and media experiment stress the love story and the artist's inward journey towards creativity."
Glass's film scores have resulted in a more wide-scale recognition than his operas. In this genre, one of his most highly acclaimed efforts is his music for Godfrey Reggio's 1983 avant-garde documentary Koyaanisqatsi. Rising to cult status since its initial release, Koyaanisqatsi takes its title from a Hopi Native American word meaning "life out of balance." As Richard Corliss reported in Time, Koyaanisqatsi begins with a shot of a volcanic eruption and ends with the crash of a space vehicle to Earth. In between are many rapidly changing scenes depicting the effects of civilization upon mankind. According to Corliss, however, the "juxtaposition of nature (good) and civilization (bad) need not be taken too seriously." The critic went on to describe it as "ravishing." Tom O'Brien in Commonweal asserted that "few recent films have been more stirring." In 2003, Glass took the film and composition to Moscow, Russia. In an interview with a writer for Europe Intelligence Wire, Glass said Koyaanisqatsi "investigates the way the world is being transformed by the power of technology and it makes it a kind of critique in a way."
Glass also provided the score for Reggio's sequel to Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi. This film takes its title from another Hopi word meaning "the sorcerer who steals from life." The format of Powaqqatsi is much like that of its predecessor, but this time Reggio focuses on the transformation of Third World cultures rather than that of the United States, as in Koyaanisqatsi. O'Brien described Glass's contribution to Powaqqatsi, writing, "Glass employs high soprano and tenor lines of a Peruvian children's choir; he blends his minimalist lyricism with indigenous instruments (especially some superb Andean flutes) and Amerindian, African, Asian, and Middle Eastern motifs." The reviewer explained, "Glass's major theme, superbly celebratory, is announced early, matching Reggio's shots of traditional ways of life, before a deluge of details documenting the squalor linked to progress." Randy Pitman, critiquing a video release of Powaqqatsi in Library Journal, called it "a feast for the eyes and ears" and went on to "highly" recommend it. The final installment in the "Qatsi" series is Naqoyqatsi. Jack Sullivan, in American Record Guide, commented on the soundtrack for the film, writing, "Glass's aesthetic works best with opera and film; by themselves, his pulsing, looping arpeggios can seem mechanical and monotonous especially when they run on for several movements, as they do here, but when yoked with images, they take on a mysterious life."
Glass provided the music for the documentary film A Brief History of Time, which featured the synthesized narration of Stephen Hawking, who wrote the book on which it is based and who has made great contributions to knowledge about the origins of the universe. Though the film version discusses Hawking's scientific contributions, it also tells viewers the story of his life, incorporating interviews with many of his family members and friends. According to Stanley Kauffmann, reviewing the motion picture in the New Republic, it "is more about the man than the work." Kauffmann reported that, unlike the high science to which he has devoted his life, "Hawking's personal story is within the grasp of all, and grasp is the right word: it grips." The critic also complimented Glass's work on the film in particular, judging that the score "has an apt spacy feeling." A Brief History of Time was directed by Earl Morris, with whom Glass also worked on the documentary about the death penalty appeals system, The Thin Blue Line.
In addition to documentaries, Glass's compositions provide the background to the other contemporary movies such as Candyman, Candyman II: Farewell tothe Flesh, Hamburger Hill, about the Vietnam War, and Kundun, about the life of the Dalai Lama. His music for The Truman Show earned him a Golden Globe award, and his original score for the film The Hours was nominated for an Academy Award. Glass told David Mermelstein of Daily Variety, that the three subjects of The Hours "are so powerful that you might wonder what they have to do with each other." He explained, "It was my view that the music would provide coherence to something which otherwise might be moving out of the center. I wanted something that would bring you back to the center."
Glass told Harry Sumrall in Smithsonian that he has never held a "high art-low art set of standards." He explained, "I've spent my life in the avant-garde. But I think that every art from is honorable, and I never look down on anyone who enjoys what they're doing."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
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Advocate, December 9, 1997, pp. 77-78.
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Economist (U.S.), August 18, 2001, "Not All Ravens Are White," p. NA.
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Europe Intelligence Wire, November 1, 2002, "Space Odyssey: Celebrated Chicago-based Writer Mary Zimmerman Has Teamed Up with Composer Philip Glass to Tell the Story of Galielo—Backwards," p. NA; November 4, 2002, "Opera: Galileo Galilei"; November 28, 2003, "Philip Glass Takes Move to Moscow."
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Independent, May 22, 2001, Phil Johnson, "A Reputation for Repetition," p. S12.
Insight on the News, December 17, 2001, Ann Geracimos, "Cosmic Classic: A New Symphony by Philip Glass Celebrates the World's Major Religions," p. 33.
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Los Angeles Times, May 3, 2001, Josef Woodard, "Music Review: Polite Cross-Cultural Exchange in Glass' Pleasant Screens," p. F54; July 16, 2001, Mark Swed, "Opera Review: New Worlds Ripe for Exploration; Lincoln Center Festival Gives U.S. Premieres of White Raven and Luci Mie Traditrici," "Fresh Examples of the Genre," p. F2; October 25, 2001, Mark Swed, "Music Review: They Shoot, Glass Scores; Composer Deftly Melds Live Music with Short Works by Filmmakers," p. F55; June 25, 2002, Mark Swed, "Opera Review: Seeing the Big Spin; In His New Opera, Galileo Galilei, Philip Glass Unravels the Tale of the Great Astronomer in Backward Order," p. F1; October 18, 2002, Jon Burlingame, "Movie Review: Striking Naqoyqatsi Rounds out Trilogy," p. E19.
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Opera, October, 2001, Martin Bernheimer, "Glass: White Raven," p. 1250; December, 2001, Barry Emslie, "Glass: Einstein on the Beach," p. 1460; January, 2002, Horst Koegler, "Glass: The Fall of the House of Usher," p. 78; April, 2002, Christopher Norton-Welsh, review of Satyagraha, p. 429.
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Opera Quarterly, autumn, 2000, David McKee, review of The Civil Wars: A Tree Best Measured When It Is Down, p. 706.
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Sensible Sound, February, 2000, Karl W. Nehring, review of Robert McDuffie, Violin Concerto, p. 49.
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Schirmer Web site, http://www.schirmer.com/ (April 9, 2001), "Philip Glass Biography."*