The Glass Ceiling

Despite being one of the most prolific and famous living composers, Philip Glass’s work is rarely performed by major American orchestras.

Overtures generally serve as peppy curtain-raisers that orchestras use to get patrons settled, rather than bold statements of artistic purpose. But when the New York Philharmonic opened its new season on Wednesday with the premiere of Philip Glass’s King Lear Overture, the event carried much symbolic weight. It was the first time the Philharmonic has commissioned a score by Mr. Glass, the 82-year-old giant of American music who has composed 12 symphonies and 13 concertos as part of his sprawling catalog that also includes operas and film scores, among other works. (Performances continue through Saturday.)