Lou Harrison lived his
first nine years in Portland, Oregon, where he was born in May 14, 1917.
Residences since then include Central California, Los Angeles, New York
City (ten years), North Carolina, the San Francisco Bay region, Oaxaca,
New Zealand, and the Monterey Bay region where he lives now. His studies
were with Howard Cooper, Henry Cowell, Arnold Schoenberg, and Virgil Thomson.
He is the recipient of several grants and awards, including Guggenheim
and Rockefeller Fellowships. Mr. Harrison has established himself as one
of the most original and important American composers of the 20th century.
As Mr. Harrison likes
to point out, American composers must often do other things to support
themselves. Among these he has been a record salesman, an animal nurse,
a journalist, a florist, a forestry firefighter, and dance accompanist.
He is a poet, painter, calligrapher, and type face designer in addition
to being a composer. He has helped to introduce the Indonesian gamelan
to the United States and, with William Colvig, has constructed two large
gamelans now in use at San Jose State University and Mills College. Ned Rorem has said,
"Lou Harrison's compositions demonstrate a variety of means and techniques.
In general he is a melodist. Rhythm has a significant place in his work,
too. Harmony is unimportant, although tonality is. He is one of the first
American composers to successfully create a workable marriage between
Eastern and Western forms."
Lou Harrison passed
away Sunday evening, February 2, 2003, on his way to attend a festival
of his music at Ohio State University at Columbus.
Lou Harrison speaks:
Chaconne by Lou Harrison and Richard Dee
Lou Harrison/Peer International Inc.
from Suite for Violin and American Gamelan
performed by David Abel and the American Gamelan
from "La Koro Sutra" New Albion NA015
(c) & (p) New Albion Records 1988