Lou Harrison

Lou Harrison : American Musical Maverick

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American composer Lou Harrison (1917-2003) is perhaps best known for challenging the traditional musical establishment along with his contemporaries and close colleagues: composers John Cage, Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, and Leonard Bernstein; Living Theater founder, Judith Malina; and choreographer, Merce Cunningham. Today, musicians from Bang on a Can to Bjork are indebted to the cultural hybrids Harrison pioneered half a century ago. His explorations of new tonalities at a time when the rest of the avant garde considered such interests heretical set the stage for minimalism and musical post-modernism. His propulsive rhythms and ground-breaking use of percussion have inspired choreographers from Merce Cunningham to Mark Morris, and he is considered the godfather of the so-called "world music" phenomenon that has invigorated Western music with global sounds over the past two decades.In this biography, authors Bill Alves and Brett Campbell trace Harrison's life and career from the diverse streets of San Francisco, where he studied with music experimentalist Henry Cowell and Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg, and where he discovered his love for all things non-traditional (Beat poetry, parties, and men); to the competitive performance industry in New York, where he subsequently launched his career as a composer, conducted Charles Ives's Third Symphony at Carnegie Hall (winning the elder composer a Pulitzer Prize), and experienced a devastating mental breakdown; to the experimental arts institution of Black Mountain College where he was involved in the first "happenings" with Cage, Cunningham, and others; and finally, back to California, where he would become a strong voice in human rights and environmental campaigns and compose some of the most eclectic pieces of his career.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 602 pages
  • 178 x 254 x 30.99mm | 64g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 31 b&w illus., 16 music exx., 3 tables
  • 0253026156
  • 9780253026156
  • 1,232,382

Review quote

An illuminating and engrossing new biography * Los Angeles Times * Comprehensive and engrossing * The New York Times * Readers who are willing to take a deep dive will be well rewarded. Harrison's life story was an inspiring one, as Alves and Campbell demonstrate. . . . Through the authors' research, we see the complex network of connections between composers-the camaraderie, and the occasional infighting and drama. * 4Columns * A superb new biography -- Alex Ross * The New Yorker *
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About Bill Alves

Bill Alves is a southern California composer of acoustic and electronic microtonal music, music for gamelan, video, and other works. He is the author of Music of the Peoples of the World and his discs are available from MicroFest Records, Spectral Harmonies, and Kinetica Video Library. He teaches at Harvey Mudd College at the Claremont Colleges, where he directs the American gamelan.Brett Campbell writes frequently about music and other arts for Oregon ArtsWatch, The Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Classical Voice, and many other publications. He teaches journalism at Portland State University and performs in Venerable Showers of Beauty gamelan ensemble, based at Lewis and Clark College in Lou Harrison's hometown of Portland, Oregon.
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Table of contents

Foreword: Hail, Lou! / Mark MorrisPreface: Lou's WorldAcknowledgmentsPart I: Oregon Trails1. The Silver Court (1917-1934)Part II: The Vast Acreage2. A Wonderful Whirligig (1935-1936)3. The Ultramodernist (1935-1936)4. The Grand Manner (1936-1937)5. Changing World (1937-1938)6. Double Music (1938-1939)7. Drums Along the Pacific (1939-1941)8. Into the Labyrinth (1941-1942)9. Western Dance (1942-1943)Part III: A Hell of a Town10. The Lonesome Isle (1943-1945)11. New York Waltzes (1945-1946)12. Praises for the Archangel (1946)13. Day of Ascension (1946-1947)14. Tears of the Angel (1947-1948)15. The Perilous Chapel (1948-1949)16. Pastorales (1949-1950)17. The White Goddess (1951)18. A Great Playground (1951-1952)19. Lake Eden (1952-1953)Part IV: Full Circle20. A Paradise Garden of Delights (1953-1955)21. Free Style (1955-1957)22. Wild Rights (1957-1961)Part V: Pacifica23. The Human Music (1961)24. Pacific Rounds (1962-1963)25. The Family of the Court (1963-1966)26. Stars Upon his Face (1967-1969)27. Young Caesar and Old Granddad (1969-1974)28. Elegies (1973-1975)Part VI: The Great Melody29. Golden Rain (1975-1977)30. Playing Together (1977-1979)31. Showers of Beauty (1978-1982)32. Paradisal Music (1982-1984)33. Stampede (1983-1987)34. New Moon (1986-1990)35. Book Music (1991-1995)36. An Eden of Music and Mountains (1995-1997)37. Asian Artistry (1997-2002)38. White Ashes (2003)NotesAppendix A: Glossary of Musical TermsAppendix B: List of Harrison's CompositionsBibliographyIndex
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