Singing Archaeology

Philip Glass’s Akhnaten


John Richardson

Wesleyan University Press 0-8195-6342-0



vii.   List of Illustrations
ix.   Acknowledgements
xi.   Introduction
1.   Oedipus and Akhnaton: Of Origins and Archaeologies
19.   Glass’s Poetics of Postmodernism
53.   The Musical Language of Akhnaten
90.   Narrating from a Distance
131.   Higher Love
185.   The Illusion of Autonomy
232.   Repudiation and Resurrection
245.   Some Thoughts on the Reception of Akhnaten
257.   Notes
287.   Index

Philip Glass is one of America’s best-known classical composers, whose work includes film scores for Koyaanisqatsi, The Thin Blue Line, and Kundun; the famous opera trilogy of Einstein on the Beach, Satyagraha, and Akhnaten; and numerous symphonies and popular works.

At the same time, Glass’s non-traditional musical syntax, his experimental, minimalist approach, and his ambiguous tonality have long resisted interpretation, and indeed very few analyses of his compositional techniques have been published. In this in-depth study, John Richardson develops new theoretical models through which to analyze both Glass’s work and its genesis.

Richardson focuses on Akhnaten, the third opera of Glass’s trilogy, to show how the composer’s concepts of sound and dramatic context, cultural theory, and gender construction intersect, providing perhaps the best demonstration of “the very nature of Glass’s aesthetic, which places a strong emphasis on implicit levels of signification and steers clear of conventional ‘story telling’ narrative strategies.”

Careful explanations of theory and compositional strategies, close readings of the work itself, considerations of the collaborative aspects of the opera’s evolution, and incorporation of previously unpublished interviews with Glass himself combine to illuminate both a landmark work of contemporary music theater and a dominant figure on the American musical landscape.

JOHN RICHARDSON, Ph.D., is a musician, journalist, and musicologist who has taught at Universities in Finland and conducted research at several institutions in North America. He currently teaches at the Department of Music at the City University of London, in UK.

Title: Singing Archaeology: Philip Glass’s Akhnaten. Author: John Richardson.

Wesleyan University Press. Published by University Press of New England, Hanover (USA) and London (UK).

Copyright 1999 by John Richardson.
ISBN: 0-8195-6317-X (Hardcover).
ISBN: 0-8195-6342-0 (Paperback).

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Akhnaten on Sony Masterworks