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Lou Harrison

American Born 14 May 1917

Born in Oregon on 14th May 1917, Lou Harrison grew up absorbing a diverse range of musical styles, taking in Cantonese opera, the music of California's Spanish and Mexican inhabitants, Gregorian chants and Indonesian gamelan music.  He studied with Virgil Thomson, Arnold Schoenberg and John Cage, and worked on composing percussive music in his early period.  In the mid-forties, Harrison moved to New York, where he studied early European music.  Here he also worked as music critic at the Herald Tribune, where he championed the work of Charles Ives (when he won a Pulitzer prize, Ives gave half the award to Harrison).

Many cultures are blended in Harrison's music, where western and eastern instruments and styles are blended.  Improvisation and indeterminacy never interested him.

As well as composing and writing criticism, Harrison has been a teacher, a dancer, an animal nurse, firefighter, poet and font designer.

Related composers: Ives, Thomson, Schoenberg, Cage

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