Date of this Version
Einstein on the Beach, the minimalist opera by Philip Glass, represents the culmination of a unique musical style within the minimalist genre developed by Glass over several decades. Since its premiere, only two analyses have been offered for the music of this opera, by Glass himself, and by Keith Potter. These analyses have provided valuable insight as to specific details of this work, but a large-scale, global analysis can also be undertaken, offering valuable insight into the overall structure of the work and also into the musical language created by Glass. Analyzing the key harmonic themes of the opera, taking into account the various rhythmic structures perpetuated by Glass, such as additive, subtractive, and cyclic structures, shows a specific focus on key centers separated by half step. These analytic decisions are made by taking into account the clarity and emphasis given to key centers and collections based on features such as repetition, duration, and register, as well as their appearance in climactic and structural scenes. F and A prevail as the dominant key areas, along with C, which appears as a tertiary focus. Taken together, F, A, and C themselves differ by only one half step to F minor, which is the central harmony in the main harmonic theme of this opera. This analysis shows the overall sense of harmonic structure created by Glass, even in a work that is characterized by its unique construction and sonic effect.
Advisor: Stanley V. Kleppinger