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Photo © David Harsany

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:

Music excerpts:

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

Scenes from Nek Chand
vvbaum on National Steel Guitar
at Other Minds Festival 8, March 7, 2002
Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, San Francisco
© 2002 world premiere

Sonata for Harpsichord
performed by Linda Burman-Hall, harpsichord
at Other Minds Festival 8, March 8, 2002
Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, San Francisco
© 1999-2000