Etude No. 2 - Philip Glass

Etude No. 2 - Philip Glass

Etude No. 2 – Philip Glass is one of the most popular pieces of modern solo piano literature. Composed in 1995, the work is in two parts, a Melody and a Chordal Etude. Glass originally used this piece to keep his students engaged and interested in music theory and technique.

History and Release of Etude No. 2 – Philip Glass

The melody part of the Etude was first released on Glass’s 1995 album “American Collection.” The piece has received several commercial recordings since. Pianist Michael Riesman has performed Etude No. 2 on several occasions. Glass has since stated that he iss pleased with the results of the piece, and even composed an additional part in 1997 to make it even more impressive.

It wasn’t until 2011 that the chordal part was released and performed on the record. Pianist Vicky Chow put together her own performance of the piece, which was featured on her album titled“In a Landscape: Music for Solo Piano.” Chow has also performed this piece on many concert stages.

Analysis of Etude No. 2 – Philip Glass

Using the common tonality of C minor and 4/4 time, Etude No. 2 by Glass is a fairly simple piece to follow. It is composed of two different parts; the melody and the chordal etude. The melody is is syncopated and arpeggiated, while the chordal etude consists of simple but effective melodic patterns.

The piece also carries a great emotional depth and tension with it. With the striking and dynamic contrasts of the melodies, it has tremendous impact and resonance with listeners. Additionally, there are moments of great clarity and beauty, making the the subtleties and the fine details stand out that much more.

Why is Etude No. 2 so Popular?

The Etude No. 2 is easy to learn due to its simple structure, as well as its emotional depth which makes it sound more complicated than it is. Its dynamic contrasts make it a great piece to use to demonstrate skill, and can be played by musicians of all levels. Glass has created a piece that can be enjoyed by pianists and audiences of all ages and tastes.

Additionally, Etude No. 2 is a great piece to play and perform since it can be adapted to fit almost any style or acoustic setting. Whether it’s performed in a concert hall, classroom, or at home, the piece Audiences can be moved and transported to different places with this simple yet effective solo piano piece.


Etude No. 2 by Philip Glass is a timeless and beloved piece of solo piano music. Combining difficult yet learnable melodies, as well as dynamic contrasts, the piece is emotionally deepening, satisfying to play, and universally enjoyed. Going on over 25 years since its release, the piece is still a favorite with both pianists and audiences all around the world.

Publication date: 19. 02. 2023