Philip Glass discovered music in his father’s radio repair shop. In addition to servicing radios, Ben Glass carried a line of records. When some didn’t sell he took them home to play them for his three children, trying to discover why the customers didn’t like them. Thus, as a youngster, Glass became familiar with works by Beethoven, Schubert, Shostakovich and others. He also learned how to play the flute.
At 19, Glass graduated from the University of Chicago with a major in mathematics and philosophy. (He skipped the last two years of high school.) He wanted to be come a composer, however, so he moved to New York City and attended the Juilliard School there. He also studied in Paris.
Glass took some time to find his own style. His early works were known as “minimalist” because they repeated and varied a very small number of basic musical ideas. However, this period was short-lived as Glass became very interested in Indian music and started writing in a very different manner. His later compositions include several operas, symphonies and film scores. He has collaborated with a variety of artists, including writers, dancers and other musicians.