Philip Glass is one of the most influential Post Modern classical composers. He is the most recent recipient of the 11th biannual Glenn Gould Prize for his contributions to music, technology and communications. SB
“I felt successful when I was 30, even though I didn’t make a living at music until I was 41 or 42. I felt successful when I was in my early thirties because I had my own ensemble and I could play concerts at will, pretty much when I wanted to. I made up my own program, I made up my tours, and frankly, I was prepared to do that for the rest of my life”.
Shortly after his arrival in New York in the late 1960s, Glass attended a performance of Steve Reich’s works, and was very impressed by the simplicity of the music that was played, so he simplified his own style and his minimalist career began. His new work was first showcased in a concert of at Jonas Mekas’s Film-Makers Cinemathèque in September 1968. As he started to make an impact, he gained the attention of many experimental contemporaries of his, including Laurie Anderson, Brian Eno and Steve Reich.
Glass said. I didn’t think his life would change as much as it has. I thought he would be in downtown New York, playing in lofts and art galleries forever.’
Now, Glass serves as an influential guide to the new generation of musical artists, as well as being an active composer.
On 31st January 2017, Philip Glass will celebrate his 80th birthday. On this day, his Symphony No.11 will have its worldwide premiere. As a part of the series of celebrations for the occasion, Sony has released the Philip Glass Complete Recordings box set.
In the past 25 years, Glass has composed over twenty operas, ten symphonies, two piano concertos and concertos for violin, piano, timpani, saxophone quartet and orchestra, and a wide range of collaborations with different artists, including Bowie, Cohen, Suzanne Vega and Mick Jagger. His famous operas Einstein on the Beach, Satyagraha, Akhnaten and The Voyage have been performed in the world’s leading opera houses.
Glass has also written music for experimental theatre, and for a variety of award winning films. He is a three-time Academy Award nominee for his work in Martin Scorsese’s Kundun, Stephen Daldry’s The Hours and Richard Eyre’s Notes on a Scandal, and a 1999 Golden Globe winner for his music for The Truman Show. But the music he wrote for the Qatsi trilogy is what is claimed to have brought Glass the most praise. Following the release of the final film from the trilogy, Naqoyqatsi in
2002, it was said that Glass’ music is “the glue that holds the film together and it’s perfectly synchronised with Reggio’s montage.”
The Philip Glass-The Complete Sony Recordings is a 24-CD limited-edition box set, created in honour of his upcoming 80th birthday. Bringing together essential pieces from Glass’ formidable catalogue, the box set includes operas, film soundtracks, dance scores, and collaborations with other artists. One of the pieces in the box set is the original of his opera Einstein on the Beach from 1976, which is believed to have changed the course of contemporary music, and has been described as “the proudest product of the extraordinary Lower Manhattan performing art in the 1970s”. The box also contains a 44-minute audio interview with the composer, as well as other Sony artists performing Glass’ music.
Another birthday present the composer can look forward to is the Barbican Theatre’s celebratory weekend event in his honour. It will take place between 27 and 29 January 2017 and will include many different acts and shows, including the dance opera Les Enfants Terribles, performed by the Royal Ballet. The tribute shows will also include performances by the BBC Singers and musicians from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Furthermore, there will be a screening of the 2013 film Visitors, which is the fourth collaboration between Glass and the producer Godfrey Reggio, in which Glass’s original score will be performed live by the BBC Symphony Orchestra.