Philip Glass And Robert Wilson's Einstein On The Beach

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In 1976, composer Philip Glass and director Robert Wilson collaborated to create the groundbreaking opera Einstein on the Beach, which may be the most significant product of either individual’s artistic output. Though rarely performed, Einstein on the Beach is considered one of the most influential and revolutionary contributions to the operatic genre. Deeply experimental, featuring minimal plot and nearly five hours of simplistic, repetitive music, Einstein on the Beach is now revered as a masterpiece.
Einstein on the Beach arose from Philip Glass’ minimalist composition style, and Robert Wilson’s sensitivity to conceptual theatricality. Prior to the opera, Philip Glass had already developed an individualistic style of composition, abandoning the movement of modernism that established composers were pressing students to continue. While Glass appreciated the serialist and chance music works he studied in Julliard, he suspected that
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Glass claims that the term “minimalism” understates the added richness and complexity to his more recent works, and gives a wholly negative impression of the genre. However, like minimalism, Glass’ music mostly derived from variations on additive and subtractive processes, in which a note is either added or removed from a motivic fragment, maintaining the character of the sound, but altering the rhythmic drive (Coventry). The music is also characterized by a heavy reliance on consonance, which enforces tonality and helps contribute to a pop-like sound quality, especially when combined with the repetitive structure of the work. The pop music sound is further enforced by the use of synthesizers in the orchestration. For these reasons, in addition to the rock-like grooves established by motivic ostinatos, Einstein on the Beach manages to blur the division between art and pop
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