Photo © Marian Zazeela

La Monte Young (born Bern, Idaho, 1935) has pioneered the concept of extended time durations in contemporary music for over 35 years. As well, his work has played a central role in the development of the use of Just Intonation in 20th-century music and the growth of the Minimalist style. Early involved in jazz, during the 1950s La Monte Young was a performer in Los Angeles of jazz saxophone, playing with Eric Dolphy, Ornette Coleman, Billy Higgins, and Don Cherry, among others. After graduate composition studies at the University of California at Berkeley, he moved to New York City, where he directed the first loft concert series in that city. He has lived in New York ever since.

With the founding in 1962 of The Theatre of Eternal Music, Mr. Young began work on his ongoing ensemble work The Tortoise, His Dreams and Journeys (1964-present). Over the years, members of The Theatre of Eternal Music have included Terry Riley, John Cale, Jon Gibson, Jon Hassell, and Marian Zazeela. His other major ongoing work has been his The Well-Tuned Piano (1964-73-81-present), for a special, Justly tuned Bösendorfer Imperial piano. By 1987, his performances of this work had expanded to a duration of almost six and a half hours.

Since the early 1960s, La Monte Young has collaborated with visual artist Marian Zazeela. Together, they have designed numerous "sound and light" environments, utilizing electronically generated sustained tones in a specially lighted environment. In addition, Mr. Young's concert works are usually presented with lighting designs by Ms. Zazeela.

In 1970, along with Terry Riley and Marian Zazeela, La Monte Young began his studies with the north Indian vocal master Pandit Pran Nath. They became his disciples, a relationship that continued until Pran Nath's death in June 1996. Their special tributes to Pandit Pran Nath can be found here.

 

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