More traditional harmonies entered his music with the opera Einstein on the Beach (1976), a work written with Robert Wilson that introduced the minimalist style to a mass audience and paved the way for a wider acceptance of contemporary opera. The meditative Einstein is without narrative plot and blends light, image, and sound as well as dance, words, and music into a hypnotic whole. Glass's work since has become more complex and varied. His more than two dozen operas have become his best-known compositions; Satyagraha (1980), Akhnaten (1984), The Fall of the House of Usher (1988), Hydrogen Jukebox (1990, a collaboration with Allen Ginsberg), The Voyage (1992), and La Belle et la Bête (1994, composed for Cocteau's film) followed Einstein. Three more had their American debuts in 2001—The Marriages between Zones 3, 4 and 5 (1997); the epic White Raven (1998), another collaboration with Wilson; and the smaller-scale In the Penal Colony (2001), based on Kafka's short story. Later operas are Galileo Galilei (2002); Waiting for the Barbarians (2005), based on a Coetzee novel; Appomattox (2007, rev. 2015); Kepler (2009); The Perfect American (2013), a surreal portrait of Walt Disney during his final days; and Drowning (2019), based on a five-page play by María Irene Fornés. Glass's other compositions include a dozen symphonies, concertos, string quartets, songs, a piano sonata, and film scores, e.g., the harmonically lush music for Koyaanisqatsi (1982), and a string quartet for a Broadway production of King Lear (2019). Glass's work has been extremely influential in the development of a new generation of composers.
See his Music by Philip Glass (1987) and his memoir Words without Music (2015); R. Kostelanetz, ed., Writings on Glass (1997); Philip Glass: Looking Glass (documentary, 2005).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Music: History, Composers, and Performers: Biographies