Philip GlassNext Profile
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Philip Glass is not only one of America’s most important composers but also one of its most prolific. And, despite turning 75 on January 31, he shows no signs of slowing down.
Recent months have seen high-profile performances of canonical Glass works as well as premieres of new ones. “Einstein on the Beach”, his 1976 “portrait opera” that the Washington Post called “one of the seminal artworks of the century,” has been on a yearlong international tour, receiving rave reviews.
Earlier in the year Glass’s ninth Symphony was premiered by the Bruckner Orchester Linz in Austria, followed by an American debut at Carnegie Hall on his birthday. In August, his 10th Symphony was performed in Aix-en-Provence, France, and he has two operas forthcoming, including “The Perfect American,” based on the life of Walt Disney, which will premiere in January 2013. Though Glass doesn’t lack for awards, he added one more to the pile with this year’s Japanese Praemium Imperiale prize for music.
Glass has remained relevant politically, as well. A longtime supporter of Tibetan independence and other nonviolent political movements (he once described himself as a “Jewish-Taoist-Hindu-Toltec-Buddhist”), Glass saw his opera “Satyagraha,” based on the early life of Mahatma Gandhi, revived in November 2011 by New York City’s Metropolitan Opera. Fittingly, the production coincided with the height of Occupy Wall Street protests, and on the night of the last performance Glass joined OWS protesters outside of Lincoln Center, where he read from the opera’s libretto.
Few composers have made as big an impact in recent decades as Glass, and he’s not making his younger colleagues’ lives any easier. The first step for those composers who want to catch up is to keep up.