One of the most influential composers of recent times, American Philip Glass is recognized worldwide for his distinctive, haunting music that has had an unprecedented impact on today’s musical and intellectual life. Describing his boundary-defying compositions as “music with repetitive structures”, Glass has composed more than 20 operas, eight symphonies, concertos, film soundtracks, string quartets and a growing body of work for solo piano and organ. Surrounded by music as a child in his father’s Baltimore record store, Glass began studying music at the Peabody Institute Preparatory at the age of eight and graduated from the University of Chicago and New York’s Juilliard School. In the early 1960s, he emigrated to Paris where he studied with the legendary Nadia Boulanger and worked intensively with Ravi Shankar, the first of many artists from a variety of musical genres and disciplines with whom he has collaborated. By 1974, Glass had created a large collection of music for The Philip Glass Ensemble and for the Mabou Mines Theater Company, which culminated in Music in Twelve Parts and the landmark, five-hour opera, Einstein on the Beach. This avant-garde collaboration with theatre visionary Robert Wilson (Rolex theatre mentor in 2002–2003), presented at the Metropolitan Opera in 1976, brought Glass international stardom and was called “one of the seminal artworks of the century” by the Washington Post. Completing the operatic trilogy were Satyagraha (1980) and Akhnaten (1984). More recently, The Perfect American, an opera about Walt Disney’s death, and Two Movements for Four Pianos premiered in 2013. Glass’s film scores have received Academy Award nominations (Kundun, The Hours, Notes on a Scandal) and a Golden Globe (The Truman Show). He received the Praemium Imperiale (2012) and the Glenn Gould Prize (2015). His latest book, Words Without Music: A Memoir, is filled with insights into his work.
The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative was created to assist extraordinary, rising artists to achieve their full potential by pairing them with great masters for a year of creative collaboration.