Philip Glass

Philip Morris Glass (born January 31, 1937) is an American composer. He is considered one of the most influential music makers of the late 20th century. His music is also often controversially described as minimal music, along with the work of the other "major minimalists" La Monte Young, Terry Riley and Steve Reich.

Glass has distanced himself from the "minimalist" label, describing himself instead as a composer of "music with repetitive structures". Though his early mature music shares much with what is normally called "minimalist", he has since evolved stylistically. Currently he describes himself as a ‘classicist’ pointing out that he is trained in harmony and counterpoint and studied such composers as Franz Schubert, Johann Sebastian Bach and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with Nadia Boulanger.

Glass is a prolific composer: he has written works for the musical group which he founded, the Philip Glass Ensemble (with which he still performs on keyboards), as well as operas, musical theatre works, ten symphonies, eleven concertos, solo works, chamber music including string quartets and instrumental sonatas, and film scores. Three of his film scores have been nominated for Academy Awards.

Wikipedia Encyclopedia

See Philip Glass website for more information –

Akhnaten (1983) was the final opera in a trilogy composed by Glass honored three men who each had significantly changed forever the world into which he was born. Previously Glass had composed Einstein on the Beach (1975-1976) and Satyagraha (1980) which celebrated the life of Gandhi.

“Akhnaten … took his place easily and naturally with Einstein and Gandhi. I saw that if Einstein epitomized the man of Science, and Gandhi the man of Politics then Akhnaten would be the man of Religion. Each of these men was more complex than this implies, and each included elements of the other two, but the idea of Politics, Science and Religion as the overview could be considered a part appealed to me very strongly.” Philip Glass

Brief History of Akhnaten

“Akhnaten lived in what we call the Eighteenth Dynasty. … His father was Amenhotep III, his mother was Queen Tye, and his wife was Nefertiti, famous for her statue in the Berlin Museum, probably one of the best known works of art of all time. Akhnaten had six daughters …. Akhnaten’s reign lasted seventeen brief, dramatic years. His burial place … has never been found. On becoming Pharaoh of Upper and Lower Egypt, he declared a new religion based upon Aten (Atum), associated with the sun but not actually the sun itself, a very important point theologically. His new god was supreme and alone, making Akhnaten the first declared mono theist in recorded history. Just as important, Akhnaten’s god was a universal god transcending locale, another first. Finally, by not identifying his god with the physical sun but emphasizing his independent nature, Akhnaten’s god is the first abstract godhead we knew. … Before Akhnaten there are perhaps another 1,500 years of recorded history, and in the Nile Valley perhaps another unrecorded 2,000 years before that.” Philip Glass

Atum (Aten), was the earliest god worshipped at Heliopolis, the Greek name Om in the Bible, (located) near Memphis. Atum was the unknown essence behind the reality of the sun god Ra. It was said that Atum existed before the creation and was a ‘spirit still formless, who bore within (Itself) the sum of all existence. (Its) name meant ‘to be complete.’” p. 72

Joy Collier
The Heretic Pharaoh: The Life of Akhenaten
New York: Dorset Press, 1970

Selections for Featured Composer #2 (Philip Glass)

Philip Glass

1. Songs for Liquid Days: “Lightning” (No. 2 of 6)
      Janice Pendarvis, vocal
      Philip Glass Ensemble
      Michael Riesman, conductor
      Sony Masterworks MK 39564

     Philip Glass
     Akhnaten: (Excerpts from the Opera)

2. “Funeral of Amenhotep III”
       Stuttgart State Opera Orchestra & Chorus
       Dennis Russell Davies, conductor
3. “Window of Appearances”
       Paul Esswood, countertenor
       Milagro Vargas, mezzo soprano
       Melinda Lieberman, soprano                              
       Stuttgart State Opera Orchestra
       Dennis Russell Davies, conductor
       Sony Masterworks M2K 42457
4. Glasspieces: “Facades” (No. 2 of 3)                                                     
      Philip Glass Ensemble
      Michael Riesman, conductor
      Sony MK 39539


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