Friday, January 30, 2015

Happy Birthday, Philip Glass!!!

Martin Acrainer in Orphée (left) and Spuren der Verirrten (right)
Nary a year goes by where we don't celebrate the birthday of American composer Philip Glass who turns 77 today.

Many of his 20+ operas have become staples of the standard repertory including Hydrogen Jukebox, Einstein on the Beach, Satyagraha, Akhnaten, and The Voyage. We've featured many of the more obscure operas on this site, including Kepler, Les Enfants Terribles, The Perfect American, Orphée and Galileo Galilei, which have become popular vehicles for barihunks like Martin Achrainer, Philip Cutlip, Matthew Worth, Nicholas Nelson and Timothy McDevitt.

Glass was born in Baltimore and studied at the University of Chicago, the Juilliard School and in Aspen with Darius Milhaud. Finding himself dissatisfied with much of what then passed for modern music, he moved to Europe, where he studied with the legendary pedagogue Nadia Boulanger and worked closely with the sitar virtuoso and composer Ravi Shankar. He returned to New York in 1967 and formed the Philip Glass Ensemble.

Guillaume Andrieux in Philip Glass' Les Enfants Terribles
Glass likes speak of himself as a composer of “music with repetitive structures.” Much of his early work was based on the extended reiteration of brief, elegant melodic fragments that wove in and out of an aural tapestry. Or, to put it another way, it immersed a listener in a sort of sonic weather that twists, turns, surrounds, develops.

Upcoming performances of Glass operas include The Trial, which will run at the Theater Magdeburg from April 1-May 8 with barihunk Johnny Herford as Josef K. In the U.S., Hydrogen Jukebox will play at the Long Beach Opera from May 30-June 7. Perhaps the most popular Glass opera this season is Akhnaten, which will play in Antwerp in February, Gent in March, Heidelberg in March and Maastricht in June.

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