Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Philip Glass is a graduate of the University of Chicago and the Juilliard School. In the early 1960s, Glass spent two years of intensive study in Paris with Nadia Boulanger and, while there, earned money by transcribing Ravi Shankar’s Indian music into Western notation. Upon his return to New York, he applied these Eastern techniques to his own music. By 1974, Glass had a number of significant and innovative projects, creating a large collection of new music for his performing group, the Philip Glass Ensemble, and for the Mabou Mines Theater Company, which he co-founded. This period culminated in Music in Twelve Parts, followed by the landmark opera, Einstein on the Beach, created with Robert Wilson in 1976.

Since Einstein, Glass has expanded his repertoire to include music for opera, dance, theater, chamber ensemble, orchestra, and film. His score for Martin Scorsese's Kundun and Richard Eyre’s Notes on a Scandal both received Academy Award nominations while his score for Peter Weir’s The Truman Show won him a Golden Globe. His film score for Stephen Daldry’s The Hours received Golden Globe, Grammy, and Academy Award nominations, along with winning a BAFTA in Film Music.

In 2004 Glass premiered the new work Orion—a collaboration between Glass and six other international artists opening in Athens as part of the cultural celebration of the 2004 Olympics in Greece. His 7th and 8th symphonies premiered in 2005 with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, and Bruckner Orchester Linz at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, respectively. 2005 also saw the premiere of Waiting for the Barbarians, an opera based on the book by J.M. Coetzee. Glass’s orchestral tribute to Indian spiritual leader Sri Ramakrishna, The Passion of Ramakrishna, premiered in 2006 at Orange County Performing Arts Center.

In April 2007, the English National Opera, in conjunction with the Metropolitan Opera, remounted Glass’s Satyagraha to critical acclaim. He and Robert Wilson then revived their groundbreaking Einstein on the Beach in 2012, which toured internationally and culminated with an Olivier Award for Best New Opera in 2013.

Glass has added to his growing list of works with operas on the life and work of Johannes Kepler, (Kepler, 2008), and Walt Disney (The Perfect American, 2013), as well as an adaption of Franz Kafka’s novel, The Trial, which Music Theatre Wales premiered in October 2014. In November 2015, the Washington National Opera premiered a newly revised version of his 2007 work, Appomattox, on which he and librettist Christopher Hampton collaborated.

Glass continues to write concert music: his 9th and 10th Symphonies premiered in 2012; a song cycle entitled Ifé -Three Yoruba Songs, written with his friend and collaborator Angelique Kidjo, was premiered by the Philharmonique de Luxembourg in January 2014; and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, premiered his Double Piano Concerto, a piece written for pianists Marielle and Katia Labèque, in 2015.

Glass celebrated his 80th birthday on January 31, 2017 with the world premiere of his 11th Symphony at Carnegie Hall. His 80th birthday season featured programming around the globe, including the U.S. premieres of operas The Trial and The Perfect American, and world premieres of several new works. Piano Concerto No. 3, written for Simone Dinnerstein, premiered in September 2017 in Boston, MA. String Quartet No. 8 received its world premiere at the Winnipeg Festival in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in February 2018. Glass’s Piano Quintet, premiered in Lincoln, Nebraska, featured a third movement dedicated to fellow composer Arvö Part. Glass is currently writing two new works: Symphony No. 12, based on David Bowie’s album Lodger and a completion of the three symphonies based on Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy, and a percussion work for Third Coast Percussion.

Outside of his compositional activities, Liveright / Norton published Glass’s memoir, Words Without Music in 2015. His multi-disciplinary arts festival, The Days and Nights Festival, will take place again this September in Carmel / Big Sur. Meanwhile he continues his work in the preservation of Tibetan Culture as an advisory member of the Tibet House US and serves as the Artistic Director of the annual Tibet House Benefit Concert held at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Philip Glass was named the eleventh recipient of the Glenn Gould Prize, a lifetime achievement award given to prominent musicians. He was also awarded the U.S. National Medal of the Arts by Barack Obama in 2015.

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