Music: Making a Joyful Noise

Philip Glass's exuberant sounds are invigorating opera

Seven years ago, on his 41st birthday, Philip Glass was driving a New York City taxicab. From the age of 17 he had worked as a hotel night clerk, an airport baggage loader, a crane operator in a steel mill, a furniture mover and a plumber, all the while pursuing his real vocation: composer. Glass, however, was not hoping to make a big score with a pop song or a Broadway show. Rather, he was that least salable commodity, a revolutionary avant- gardist.

But there was a twist. Rather than inveighing against traditionalism, as radicals are supposed to do, Glass was...

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