By Fredric Lieberman
Lou Harrison, who celebrated his 80th birthday in 1997, has usually been mentioned as certainly one of America's most unique and influential composers. as well as his prolific musical output, Harrison is additionally a talented painter, calligrapher, essayist, critic, poet, and instrument-builder. in the course of his lengthy and sundry occupation, he has explored dance, Asian song, tuning platforms, and common languages, and has actively championed political factors starting from pacifism to homosexual rights. This publication, in line with large examine and approximately seventy interviews, examines the information that experience formed Harrison's artistic output, as noticeable during the eyes of the composer and his affiliates. A seventy-minute compact disc incorporated with the e-book illustrates in sound quite a few elements of the written textual content; so much items are recorded right here for the 1st time.
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Additional resources for Lou Harrison
From 1974 to 1990, under Dennis Russell Davies, the festival presented Harrison’s work nearly every year, commissioned the Third Symphony (1982), and premiered the Grand Duo (1988). Davies (b. 1944) became an international champion of Harrison’s music. indd 27 27 3/10/06 1:29:33 PM l o u h a r r i s o n | Portrait 28 Richard Dee (his student); Lily Chin, a Western-trained singer who learned cheng from Lou; and poet Kenneth Rexroth, who read his own translations of Chinese verse to musical accompaniment.
A particularly fruitful collaboration developed with Mark Morris (b. 1956), who in 1987 requested permission to choreograph Harrison’s Strict Songs (1955). In Morris’s version, the eight baritones of the original performance were replaced by the 120–member Seattle Men’s Chorus. Morris found the experience so rewarding that he then choreographed most of the Grand Duo and portions of the Piano Trio and Homage to Pacifica (1991), works that remain in the dance company’s active repertoire. Rhymes with Silver (1996), a 45–minute piece that Morris commissioned from Harrison to feature cellist Yo-Yo Ma, met with rave reviews.
But the need to keep himself amused and awake during tedious dance classes provided the opportunity to experiment with sounds, leading to high-quality independent compositions, many of which are today part of the standard percussion ensemble repertory. By the time he left San Francisco in the summer of 1942, Harrison had written more than a dozen works that remain in the repertory: two trios (Counterdance in the Spring and In Praise of Johnny Appleseed); six quartets (Fifth Simfony, Song of Quetzalcóatl, Simfony #13, Double Music, Canticle #5, and Fugue); four quintets (Bomba, Canticle #1, Canticle #3, and Suite); and a work for eleven players and more than ninety instruments (Labyrinth #3).