November 5: Opera and Minimalism
Philip Glass, Einstein on the Beach (recorded in 1993)
The opera was premiered at the Avignon Festival in 1976, in a production by Robert Wilson (see also the Watermill Center). Wilson was born in Waco, Texas, and was trained principally in painting in architecture. His interest in drama, especially in creating productions of operas and other theatrical works dominated by light, led Eugene Ionesco to label him as "America’s most important dramatist." That production was brought from France and given two blockbuster, sold-out performances at the Met, which were praised by Andrew Porter in the New York Times. It brought Glass immense fame and was the first major exposure of the minimalist style to a broad audience.
Glass has often voiced his opposition to what he characterizes as a serialist clique among contemporary composers: "There was a time when there wasn't this tremendous distance between the popular audience and concert music, and I think we’re approaching that stage again. For a long while we had this very small band of practitioners of modern music who described themselves as mathematicians, doing theoretical work that would someday be understood. I don't think anyone takes that very seriously anymore."
The opera eventually became the first part of an opera trilogy about men who changed the world through their ideas, followed by Satyagraha, on the life of Gandhi (1980), and Akhnaten, about the ancient Egyptian religious leader (1983).
- Einstein on the Beach (GlassPages, with great images)
- Musical Themes in Einstein on the Beach (Nicolas Sceaux)
- Philip Glass in conversation with Thomas Moore (October 10, 1981, the Pension Building, now the National Building Museum, in Washington, D.C.)
- 25 Years after 'Einstein On The Beach': Frank J. Oteri talks with Philip Glass (October 9, 2001)
- Portrait of Philip Glass at the piano (Annie Leibovitz)
- Kaleidoscope: Philip Glass talks to Michael Berkeley (September 22, 1986, BBC Radio 4)
- Profile of Philip Glass (BBC)
- Porter Anderson, Philip Glass: 'Be careful what you want' (June 4, 2001, CNN)
- T. J. Medrek, BU Fringe Fest presents cosmic 'Galileo' (Boston Herald, October 31, 2004): on a performance of Glass's opera on the life of Galileo Galilei, premiered in 2002
John Adams, Nixon in China (conducted by Edo de Waart)
- Elena Park, John Adams Speaks Out About Art in a Time of War (Andante)
- Intersections: John Adams and the Poetry of Music (NPR, January 12, 2004)
- Brian Wise, John Adams's 9/11 Work Wins 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Music (WNYC)
- On the Transmigration of Souls, a New Work by John Adams (2002)
There is a Web site devoted to Dr. Atomic and its upcoming premiere. Thanks to Lisa Hirsch at Iron Tongue of Midnight for the link.