His mother was a librarian. His father owned a record store and would spend the evenings listening to unsold recordings. The son listened along to Mozart, Schoenberg, Schubert and Charles Ives.
Philip Morris Glass was born on January 31, 1937 in Baltimore, into a family of Lithuanian Jewish immigrants. He played violin at an early age, later flute and piano. As an eight-year-old, he became a student at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. By age 10 he was playing in local orchestras. After earning his Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and Philosophy at the University of Chicago, he moved on to the Juilliard School in New York to study piano.
By 1964 he found himself in Paris, studying on a Fulbright scholarship under Nadia Boulanger – who, Glass later said, taught Mozart and Bach “with an iron rod.” The following year, he met another major influence, the sitar player and composer Ravi Shankar, who introduced him to the temporal and rhythmic characteristics of Asian music. He traveled India, took lessons on the tabla, became a Buddhist and later, an advocate of the Tibetan independence movement.
Read more at Deutsch Welle.