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Robert Wilson and Philip Glass: Einstein on the Beach, Performed

Following a 1976 conversation between Charles Ruas, Robert Wilson, and Philip Glass; this recording documents an original performance of the now internationally recognized experimental opera, Einstein on the Beach. The work follows the narrative of Einstein without a formal story line. It is a cyclical performance.

There are three thematic sequences, interrupted by four "knee plays," a signature structure of Wilson's work. The three predominate scenes are: Train, Trial, and Field. When combined they allude to Einstein's hypotheses about his theory of relativity and his unified field theory.

Re-stagings of the work have taken place around the world consistently over the last three decades. The opera influenced artists of the 1970s, as well as those to follow, including the band Counting Crows. The band's song, of the same title, became their first number one hit on the Modern Rock chart.

Robert Wilson (b. 1941) is an American playwright and influential experimental theater director. He has also worked as a performer and is a recognized visual artist. In the late 1960's he founded the Byrd Hoffman School of Byrds, an experimental theater company. Since that time, he has directed stage pieces around the world, altering the face, pace, and place of opera and musical theater forever. In 1984, he planned a performance for the summer Olympics and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize later that year. In addition to Glass, Wilson has collaborated with Tom Waits, William Burroughs, and Lady Gaga.

Philip Glass (b. 1937) is an American composer. He is considered by many to be one of the most influential music makers in the late 20th Century; a founding force in minimalist and pattern music that forever changed the landscape. In the late 1950's he studied at the Julliard School of Music. While abroad and in New York, he established formative relationships with members of the theater and visual arts community.; including Sol LeWitt, Bruce Nauman, Chuck Close, and Laurie Anderson. Glass has been nominated for several Academy Awards for his work in film composition, and countless other awards for his staged works and compositions.


Historic Audio from the Archives of Charles Ruas


An unparalleled collection of recovered and restored programs from the seventies produced by Charles Ruas, and featuring Allen Ginsberg, John Giorno, Anaïs Nin, William Boroughs, Buckminster Fuller, Sylvia Plath, Pablo Neruda, and Jorge Luis Borges, among numerous others. 

New York Public Library


The New York Public Library's public programs of the Artist Dialogues Series, are recorded and shared with as part of a partnership coordinated by artist, curator, and senior librarian Arezoo Moseni.


Historic Audio


Rare audio archives you won’t find anywhere else.