Classical Music

American Composer Honored With National Medal Of Arts

Philip Glass is a recipient of the 2015 National Medal of Arts, to be awarded by President Obama this week.

Philip Glass at piano
Composer Philip Glass working at the piano.

Last year, composer Meredith Monk was among multiple recipients of the National Medal of Arts, presented by President Barack Obama at a special ceremony at the White House. This year, another of America’s great composers will receive this honor: Philip Glass.

Glass is one of the primary composers associated with the minimalist movement from the late 1960s moving into the 70s. Glass himself does not like the term “minimalist,” however, and instead says that he composes “music with repetitive structures.” Regardless of how you’d classify him or his music, his influence and presence in modern classical music is apparent given his extensive body of work and the ever-enduring Philip Glass Ensemble.

Among his works are the early opera Einstein on the Beach:

The score to the purely musical and visual film Koyaanisqatsi (and its two sequels):

Two symphonies based on the music of the late David Bowie:

And most recently a concerto for two pianos and orchestra:

For insight into the man himself, check out this interview from 2010 by the National Endowment for the Arts:

Other honorees include director Mel Brooks, actor Morgan Freeman, as well as musicians, dancers, writers, and other prominent artists. Catch the live stream of the National Medal of Arts ceremony Thursday, September 22 around 11 AM EST at the White House website.

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