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January 31: Philip Glass

January 31, 2014

philip_glassAcclaimed composer Philip Glass, the son of Lithuanian Jewish immigrants who owned a record store, was born in Baltimore on this date in 1937. He was keyboard and composition student at the Juilliard School of Music when, in 1959, he won one of the BMI Foundation’s prestigious Student Composer Awards. As a Fulbright scholar, Glass studied with Nadia Boulanger in Paris for three years before returning to New York in 1967, where was very influenced by the minimalist compositions of Steve Reich and began to shape pieces that made Glass a leading light of hypnotic modernist music (he has described his work as “music with repetitive structures”). A prolific creator, Glass has composed operas, musical theater scores, symphonies and concertos, chamber music, solo works, and film scores, three of which have been nominated for Academy Awards. His best-known works include Einstein on the Beach, with theater artist Robert Wilson, Satyagraha, an opera about non-violent struggle, and his film score, Koyaanisqatsi. Glass has collaborated with a wide range of creative dancers, writers, filmmakers, rock and roll musicians, directors, conductors, and visual artists.

“When I struck out in my own music language, I took a step out of the world of serious music, according to most of my teachers. But I didn’t care. I could row the boat by myself, you know? I didn’t need to be on the big liner with everybody else.” —Philip Glass