Alvin Lucier was born in 1931 into a musical family. Both his mother and father were excellent amateur musicians, and he grew up in a home in which there was much music making, including four-part singing around the dinner table. He studied at Brandeis and at Yale, where he produced a large-scale work for flute, harpsichord, and string orchestra during his senior year, and spent two years in Rome on a Fulbright Scholarship in the early 1960s. After returning from Rome, he joined the faculty at Brandeis and there he conducted the Brandeis University Chamber Chorus, an ensemble which devoted much its time to the performance of new music. In 1966 he co-founded the Sonic Arts Union with Robert Ashley, David Behrman, and Gordon Mumma, and from 1972 to 1979 was music director of the Viola Farber Dance Company. Since 1970 he has taught at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.
Alvin Lucier has been a pioneer in many areas of composition and performance, including the use of brain waves in live performance (Music for Solo Performer), the generation of visual imagery by sound in vibrating media (The Queen of the South), and the evocation of room acoustics for musical purposes (I am Sitting in a Room). His recent works include a series of sound installations and works for solo instruments, chamber ensembles, and orchestra in which, by means of close tunings with pure tones, sound waves are caused to spin in space. Among these recent works are Small Waves, for trombone, piano, and string quartet with six amplified glass vases; Wave Painting Songs, for soprano and pure wave oscillators; and for five players with Lexicon Acoustic Reverberation System. A new large-scale work for three orchestras, written for the S.E.M. Ensemble, will be performed in May, 1999, in Prague. His works have been performed around the world, and he is represented on over three dozen recordings. In March, 1995, MusikTexte published a bilingual edition of his scores, interviews, and writings, Reflections/Reflexionen.