There are only a few American composers who can be credited with adorning the public
with "art music." Out of these select few, Philip Glass a 20th century composer is considered
one of the most influential. His earliest works are considered minimalist by many critics,
however his style has evolved through many years of composing.
Glass began as an experimental composer of music, until he penned his first opera in
1975, Einstein on the Beach, which became widely acclaimed. It was after this opera when Glass
became extremely prolific in the opera and theatre community. In 1980 he composed Satyagraha,
which was based on the life of Gandhi and his experiences in South Africa. This opera proved to
be a turning point for Glass because it was the first time he scored for a symphony orchestra in
nearly 15 years. After a couple more compositions, Glass took a nearly 10 year hiatus from opera
and began to write music scores for movies, which he still does to this day. He returned to the
expansive world of opera in the early 1990s however with triptych, a three-part opera which was
based on the work of John Cocteau, a French writer and filmmaker.
In recent years, most of Glass' work is devoted to scoring films. He has received three
Academy Award nominations for Kundun, The Hours, and Notes on a Scandal and one Golden
Globe win for The Hours. Though he has not written any works for opera in recent years, it does
not seem unlikely that he would again, due to his ever-changing pattern of composing.