Philip Glass (1937– )

How to say the name:

The name Philip Glass is easy to say!


31st January 1937 in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Type of Music:

Modern classical music. His music is often called minimalist, but he doesn’t like that title. Instead he says he is a composer of ‘music with repetitive structures’. His music is made up of short bits of music (phrases) that repeat over and over again. (See also Steve Reich.)

A famous piece:
  • Music for the film ‘The Hours’. (See below for a video example.)
Some great pieces:
  • Music in 12 Parts.
  • The three operas ‘Einstein on the Beach’, ‘Satyagraha’ and ‘Akhnaten’. (See below for a video of the end of ‘Satyagraha’.)
  • Violin Concerto. (See the dance video below.)
  • Symphony No. 3.
Some interesting facts:
  • He has composed hundreds of pieces of music.
  • When he first started composing many people thought his music was crazy. He had to work as a plumber and a taxi driver to earn a living. And he had to play his music for free.
  • He formed his own music group, the Philip Glass Ensemble, to play his music.
  • He has composed a lot of film music.
  • His music is now very popular. Many people who listen to his music wouldn’t normally listen to classical music.
  • He works with all sorts of musicians—including popular musicians and rock bands.
  • He’s a very nice person (so says a friend of mine who met him when she was performing the opera ‘Satyagraha’)!
Official Website

Here is a video of some music Philip Glass wrote for the movie The Hours.

Music by Philip Glass from the movie ‘The Hours’

And here is a video of some modern ballet danced to Philip Glass’s Violin Concerto!

Modern ballet danced to Philip Glass’s Violin Concerto

Finally, here is a video of Philip Glass himself talking, and then performing ‘The Newcastle March’ from his opera, Satyagraha.

Philip Glass himself performing ‘The Newcastle March’ from ‘Satyagraha’

Picture credits:
  1. Philip Glass. This is a photograph taken by WNYC studios in December 2007. The image is free to use as long as one acknowledges WNYC New York Public Radio as the owner. Click here for the source of this image, along with the relevant copyright information.
Video credits:
  1. philip glass: the hours. piano by branka parlic 5th of july 2005. synagogue, novi sad.
  2. Glass Violin Concerto. Thang Dao Dance Company. Second movement. Dancers: Mona Afable, Dante Puleio, Julie Shulman, Kurt Douglas, Elyse Mlot, Colby Damon.
  3. 1- Philip Glass, Tony Boutte perform “The Newcastle March”. Part 1: Philip Glass and tenor Tony Boutte perform “The Newcastle March” from the opera Satyagraha at “Satyagraha: Gandhi’s ‘Truth Force’ in the Age of Climate Change” presented by the Garrison Institute on April 13, 2008 at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York City.