Exhibit | June 15, 2012

The Morgan Library Presents 'Einstein on the Beach' Exhibition

New York, NY, June 14, 2012—In 1976 composer Philip Glass and director Robert Wilson redefined opera with the debut in Avignon, France, of Einstein on the Beach. The nearly five-hour, non-narrative work broke a host of operatic conventions and would become the most celebrated of the many collaborations between these two giants of the musical and theatrical stage.

Beginning on July 13, The Morgan Library & Museum will exhibit for the first time Glass’s autograph score for Einstein on the Beach as well as Wilson’s production storyboards totaling more than one hundred designs. It is the first time the score has been exhibited and the first time it has been united with Wilson’s work since the opera premiered more than thirty-five years ago. Robert Wilson/Philip Glass: Einstein on the Beach will run through November 4.

The exhibition will also include archival film of the premieres in Brussels and Paris, as well as an excerpt from a New York rehearsal. In addition, Einstein on the Beach: The Changing Image of Opera, a documentary about the 1984 restaging of the production at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, will be screened throughout the run of the exhibition in the Morgan’s Gilder Lehrman Hall. Combining clips and interviews with Wilson and Glass, the film offers a rare look at their creative process and collaborative working method.

“Few works of modernist opera have left as deep an imprint as Einstein on the Beach,” said William M. Griswold, director of The Morgan Library & Museum. “Revolutionary in its music and stagecraft, the work launched one of the most successful artistic collaborations of the late twentieth century. It is riveting to see the juxtaposition of the storyboard designs and original score as Wilson and Glass strove to blend their extraordinary talents to create a milestone in operatic history.”
Einstein on the Beach
Created as a metaphorical look at the most celebrated genius of the twentieth century, Einstein on the Beach debuted at the Avignon Festival on July 25, 1976. Breaking with tradition, Glass composed the work for the synthesizers and woodwinds of the Philip Glass Ensemble in addition to voices and solo violin, instead of the traditional orchestral arrangement. Abstract dance sequences, choreographed by Lucinda Childs and Andrew de Groat, were juxtaposed against a sequence of large, recurring images projected on a screen at the back of the stage. The opera’s four acts were framed and connected with a series of short scenes or “knee plays.” Rather than the conventional intermission, the audience was free to enter and exit throughout the almost five-hour performance.

The sung portions of the opera use number sequences and solfège syllables (do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti); the spoken sections feature texts by Christopher Knowles, Ms. Childs, and actor Samuel M. Johnson. Contemporary events and notable people of the 1970s are referenced in various scenes—from the famous trial of heiress-turned-revolutionary Patty Hearst to the Beatles and pop singer David Cassidy.

Although Einstein on the Beach is essentially plotless, the climactic scene clearly depicts nuclear holocaust. Glass recalled that, as a child, Albert Einstein had been a hero. “Growing up just after World War II,” he said, “it was impossible not to know who he was. The emphatic, if catastrophic, beginnings of the nuclear age had made atomic energy the most widely discussed issue of the day.”

Visitors to the exhibition will enter a gallery awash in blue light, reminiscent of the opera’s stage lighting. The archival footage on view was selected from the Robert Wilson Audio/Visual Collection at the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Einstein on the Beach was the first in Glass’s portrait trilogy, followed by Satyagraha (1980), in which the composer turned his attention to Gandhi, and Akhnaten (1984), based on the life of the Egyptian pharaoh. Currently, a new production of Einstein on the Beach is making a yearlong international tour in honor of Glass’s 75th anniversary year.

Glass’s autograph manuscript is shown with the permission of Paul Walter, who recently placed it on deposit at the Morgan. The Wilson storyboards have been lent by William Kistler.
Related Programming??
Gallery Talk??Robert Wilson/Philip Glass: Einstein on the Beach??Friday, July 13, 7 pm??An informal tour led by exhibition curator Fran Barulich, Mary Flagler Cary Curator, Department of Music Manuscripts and Printed Music at the Morgan.??Free

Einstein on the Beach: The Changing Image of Opera
Friday, July 13, 8 pm
(1985, 58 minutes)
Director: Mark Obenhaus
A look at the 1984 landmark production of Einstein on the Beach staged at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, this film offers a window into Wilson and Glass’s collaborative creative process. The film will also be screened daily throughout the duration of the exhibition.??Free with admission

World Premiere of Philip Glass’s “Stoker”
Sunday, October 21, 3 pm
This concert will feature the world premiere of Glass’s “Stoker,” and other works for two pianos and piano four hands, performed by Dennis Russell Davies and Maki Namekawa.
Debussy, “En blanc et noir,” for two pianos??Stravinsky, “Le Sacre du printemps,” for piano four hands, arranged by Stravinsky??Glass, “Stoker,” for piano four hands (world premiere)??Glass, Four Movements for Two Pianos
Tickets available after August 1: $35; $25 for Members. Available online at www.themorgan.org/programs; or by calling 212-685-0008 x560
Organization and Sponsorship
Robert Wilson/Philip Glass: Einstein on the Beach was organized by Fran Barulich, Mary Flagler Cary Curator, Department of Music Manuscripts and Printed Music.

The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

The Morgan Library & Museum
The Morgan Library & Museum began as the private library of financier Pierpont Morgan, one of the preeminent collectors and cultural benefactors in the United States. Today, more than a century after its founding in 1906, the Morgan serves as a museum, independent research library, musical venue, architectural landmark, and historic site. In October 2010, the Morgan completed the first-ever restoration of its original McKim building, Pierpont Morgan's private library, and the core of the institution. In tandem with the 2006 expansion project by architect Renzo Piano, the Morgan now provides visitors unprecedented access to its world-renowned collections of drawings, literary and historical manuscripts, musical scores, medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, printed books, and ancient Near Eastern seals and tablets.

General Information
The Morgan Library & Museum
225 Madison Avenue, at 36th Street, New York, NY 10016-3405
Just a short walk from Grand Central and Penn Station

Tuesday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; extended Friday hours, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; closed Mondays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. The Morgan closes at 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.

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