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Symphony No. 5

Symphony No. 5 cover art

News & Reviews

  • Philip Glass, Robert Wilson's "Einstein on the Beach" Makes West Coast Debut with Three Sold-Out Berkeley Performances

    Philip Glass and Robert Wilson's groundbreaking opera Einstein on the Beach receives its West Coast premiere, nearly four decades after it was first performed, with three sold-out performances at Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall this weekend. PBS Newshour marked the occasion with a look at this groundbreaking work and the career of its composer, which you can watch here. This weekend's performances of Einstein on the Beach are part of a major international tour that heads next to Mexico City, Amsterdam, and Hong Kong.

  • Philip Glass, Robert Wilson's "Einstein on the Beach" Returns to NYC with Eight Performances at BAM

    Philip Glass and Robert Wilson's Einstein on the Beach, widely credited as one of the greatest artistic achievements of the 20th century, launched its creators to international success when it was first produced in Avignon, France, in 1976. Now, 20 years since its last production, as part of an international tour, Einstein on the Beach returns to New York with eight performances at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), tonight through September 23.

About this Album

When Philip Glass’s newly completed Symphony No. 5 received its world premiere at the 1999 Salzburg Festival, Los Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed called it “a glorious, inspiring work.” The Symphony, commissioned by the Salzburg Festival and conceived as a millennial celebration piece, is an epic 101-minute, 800-page work scored for orchestra, chorus, children’s choir, and five vocal soloists. It reflects on what Glass calls “the world’s greatest wisdom traditions.”

Working together with the Very Reverend James Parks Morton of the Interfaith Center of New York and Professor Kusumita P. Pedersen of St. Francis College, texts spanning more than 2,500 years and dozens of different cultures were culled from a variety of sources, including the Tibetan Book of the Dead, aboriginal and African chants, and the writings of American religious thinker and author Thomas Merton, among others. They have been translated into one language, English, from Greek, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and a number of indigenous languages.

The libretto, taking English as its common language, serves to exemplify universal spiritual themes that transcend both time and culture. The 12-movement symphony is intended to illustrate the bridge between the past and the future, hence the subtitle: Requiem (death); Bardo (a Buddhist in-between state), and Nirmanakaya (a kind of enlightened spiritual rebirth). In a larger context the libretto reflects on the process of global transformation and evolution, beginning before the earth’s creation, passing through earthly life and on into paradise, culminating with a dedication to the future.

This recording features the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Morgan State University Choir, and Hungarian Radio Children’s Choir, conducted by Dennis Russell Davies. The featured vocal soloists are Ana Maria Martinez (soprano), Denyce Graves (mezzo-soprano), Michael Schade (tenor), Eric Owens (baritone), and Albert Dohmen (bass-baritone).


Dennis Russell Davies, conductor
Dante Anzolini, assistant conductor
Ana Maria Martinez, soprano
Denyce Graves, mezzo-soprano
Michael Schade, tenor
Eric Owens, baritone
Albert Dohmen, bass-baritone

Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
Morgan State University Choir: Dr Nathan Carter, music director
Hungarian Radio Children’s Choir: Gabrilla Thész, music director

Produced by Michael Riesman and Kurt Munkacsi for Euphorbia Productions, Ltd.
Recorded at the Austrian Broadcasting Studios (ORF), Vienna (April-May 2000)
Engineer: Anton Reininger
Assistant Engineer: Gerald Ernst
Additional Recording July 2000 at Clinton Studios, New York City, and at The Looking Glass Studios, New York City
Engineer: Dave Winslow
Assistant Engineer: Steef van de Gevel
Assistant Engineers at Clinton Studios: Keith Shortreed, Jeremy Welch
Mixed July 2000 at the Looking Glass Studios, New York City
Engineer: Dave Winslow
Assistant Engineer: Steef van de Gevel
Technical Engineer: Jamie Mereness
Mastered by Charles LaPierre at SoundByte Productions, Inc., New York City
Denyce Graves appears courtesy of BMG Classics

All compositions by Philip Glass

Design by Frank Olinsky

Executive Producer: Robert Hurwitz

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