Personalities | Philip Glass | Contemporary | Classical

b. 1937
American composer

Glass studied with Nadia Boulanger and Alla Rakha, Ravi Shankar’s tabla player, but the influence of Indian traditions on his music is not overt; rather they are evident in the additive, repetitive rhythmic processes (Music in Similar Motion, 1969). Parallel lines, simple diatonic harmony and unspecified instrumentation are characteristic of Glass’s early music. From the early 1970s, the harmony became fuller and more static, involving pedal points. He achieved wider acclaim with the opera Einstein on the Beach (1975–76), in which the normal linear narrative of opera is replaced by an exploration of various symbols related to Einstein, such as the Theory of Relativity. Glass’s objective approach to minimalism was gradually infused with expressiveness (The Canyon, 1988). He has collaborated with artists as varied as Paul Simon (Songs from Liquid Days, 1986) and Doris Lessing (the operas The Making of the Representative for Planet 8, 1986; The Marriages between Zones Three, Four and Five, 1996). Glass has had a productive association with Hollywood, creating scores for films including The Truman Show (1999, a Golden Globe winner), the Oscar-nominated The Hours (2003) and Notes on a Scandal (2006). His opera The Perfect American, based on the life of Walt Disney, was premiered in Madrid in 2013.

Recommended Recording:
Einstein on the Beach, soloists, Philip Glass Ensemble (dir) Michael Riesman (Sony)

Introduction | Contemporary | Classical
Personalities | Alexander Goehr | Contemporary | Classical


An extensive music information resource, bringing together the talents and expertise of a wide range of editors and musicologists, including Stanley Sadie, Charles Wilson, Paul Du Noyer, Tony Byworth, Bob Allen, Howard Mandel, Cliff Douse, William Schafer, John Wilson...


Classical, Rock, Blues, Jazz, Country and more. Flame Tree has been making encyclopaedias and guides about music for over 20 years. Now Flame Tree Pro brings together a huge canon of carefully curated information on genres, styles, artists and instruments. It's a perfect tool for study, and entertaining too, a great companion to our music books.

Rock, A Life Story

Rock, A Life Story

The ultimate story of a life of rock music, from the 1950s to the present day.

David Bowie

David Bowie

Fantastic new, unofficial biography covers his life, music, art and movies, with a sweep of incredible photographs.