Philip Glass knows no boundaries. The acclaimed modern composer's career began "properly" enough, with study at the Julliard School of Music and work in Pittsburgh's public schools. A move to Paris changed everything, as Glass delved into a period of minimalism enhanced by the revelatory discovery of Indian classical music's repetitive nature. This period shaped Glass going forward, and elements from it have sneaked into his compositions for orchestra, film, esoteric dance pieces, chamber ensembles, and, what became perhaps his finest achievements, a bevy of unusual and complex operas on altogether unexpected subject matter.
Despite a career pushing 60 years, and a fan base ready for anything wild and unfettered he can throw at it, Glass has returned to the simplest of compositional forms: the solo piano piece.
Of course, with 78-year-old Glass, nothing is quite that simple. His series of 20 etudes (two sets of 10) span a nearly 20-year compositional period. All are intricately linked and gradually increase in complexity and depth. Even the seemingly simplest works are layered with hidden melodies and voices retaining bits and pieces of his own complex musical lore, and only repeated listening will uncover them, masked behind Glass' tell-tale repetitive nature.