MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Lou Harrison’s 100th

May 14 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Lou Harrison. NPR’s Tom Huizenga has this lovely appreciation:

The composer’s motto was “Cherish, Conserve, Consider, Create.” He was a published poet, a painter and a calligrapher, and was openly gay back in the 1930s. […]

Harrison was fond of saying, “Enjoy hybrid music, because that’s all there is.”

“He knew that all music actually comes from other musics and combinations,” [biographer Brett] Campbell says. “There’s no such thing as a pure music.”

And from Brett Campbell himself, at Oregon Arts Watch:

Since Harrison’s death, his music is played somewhere every day, often in dance works, several choreographed by his great friend and colleague Mark Morris. It’s a colorful story, told in Eva Soltes’s film Lou Harrison: A World of Music, and in the new biography I co-authored with Bill Alves, Lou Harrison: American Musical Maverick— and it all began here.

Harrison’s legacy extends into this century: his work with Asian musical forms and instruments and his exploration of new tuning systems opened a whole new world of possibilities to modern music, allowing composers to take resources from various cultures and use them to make new music.

 

 

Filed under: American music, anniversary, Lou Harrison

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