Biography of Philip Glass (1937-VVVV)

Philip Glass.

American composer, born in Baltimore (United States of America) in 1937.


Without a doubt, Glass is one of the most atypical of the 70 and 80 composers. Aside from his work in the film, is known for being the author of various works of minimalist style (see musical minimalism), characterized by recurrent a particular passage repetition, so that progress towards complexity, starting with the emphasis on a simple musical motive. It is in the 1960s when, in Paris worked alongside Nadia Boulanger, musicologist of great prestige, thanks to which became interested in the works of Indian Ravi Shankar, influence which was reflected in the first film for which he/she worked Glass.

This original composer received his musical training at the University of Chicago, where he/she became interested in the work of American musicians of the avant-garde, as John Cage. He/She frequented the intellectual circles of the city and soon came into contact with experimental filmmakers who requested his intervention in diverse projects. It was especially pleasant to Glass, who already conceived the musical as a fact that should not be confined to the vision of the Orchestra, but it should be accompanied by other types of sensations. It was formed when the Phillip Glass Ensemble, a group that was the clear reference of the "New Age" movement. He/She began to edit, with his own label, a series of albums (Music in Similar Motion and Music in 5ths, 1973;) Music in 12 Parts 1 and Music in 12 Parts 2, 1974; North Star, 1977; Only Music, 1978; Soho Music, 1981). He/She composed operas like Einstein on the beach (1976), Satyaghara (1979), Akhnaten (1984) and consolidated as one of the most interesting young musicians in the American scene.

In 1983 Godfrey Reggio called it so he/she composed the music of his first film, a project that has taken him years of preparation. It's Koyaanisqatsi, a cutting edge documentary inspired by the teachings of the hopi of Arizona Indians. It contrasts the industrial civilization with the forces of nature. To do this, the filmmaker resorted to various Visual effects, such as the use of the fast motion or the use of special filters. Francis Ford Coppola supported this film with his producer. One of the fundamental strengths of the film is the music of Glass, who composed a minimalist Symphony which was repeatedly praised by the specialists. Surely that Reggio had heard the work edited by Glass a year earlier, entitled Glass Works, but also took time to develop a second project entitled The Potographer.

Thereafter, Glass combined the composition of soundtracks with the preparation of musical projects that were also occasionally related to the film. Highlights, for example, new music composed for the film beauty and the beast (1946), by Jean Cocteau, converted into a vanguard opera by it.

In regard to his career as an author of soundtracks, especially highlights the score performed for the film Mishima in 1985, one of his best and most admired compositions.

Despite the fact that, by their backgrounds, Glass seemed destined to collaborate on pilot projects, or when less, risky aesthetically, also has been involved in highly commercial films. Such is the case of Candyman, the domain of the mind, of terror production based on a Clive Barker short story. Air nightmare that suggests the music of Glass is perfectly suitable for this movie's supernatural crimes.

Glass works in cinema does not prevent it from further progress in the issue of new work in collaboration, such as Song From Liquid Days (1986) and Dancepieces (1987), composite that maintains over the following years with great dynamism and creativity.


1966: Chappaqua.1968: Inquiring nuns. 1978: North star. 1979: Geometry of a circle. 1983: Koyaanisqatsi. 1984: Four american composers; High wire. 1985: Mishima.1986: A composer's notes: Philip Glass and the making of an opera; Dead end kiss; Dialogue; It's clean, it just look dirty. 1987: Einstein on the beach: The changing image of opera; Hamburger Hill; Music with roots in the aether; Robert Wilson and the civil wars; Moon july Twa. 1988: Powaqqatsi; The thin blue line. 1989: Architecture of trascendence. 1990: Sea of oil. 1991: Closet land; Exposure; Merci, the vie; Mindwalk.1992: Brief story of time; Candyman, the domain of the mind; Compassion in exile: the life of the 14th Dalai Lama. 1994: Himalayas.1995: Candyman II; Edgar Alan Poe: terror of the soul. 1996: Twyla Tharp: oppositions.


CUETO, Roberto: One hundred soundtracks in the history of cinema. Madrid. Nuer editions. 1996.

VALLS GORINA, Manuel and PADROL, Joan: music and film. Barcelona. Overseas publishers. 1990.

Links on the Internet.; official website of this musician, with plenty of information. In English.; page dedicated to Philip Glass. In English.; web page dedicated to Philip Glass. In English.