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Lou Harrison (5/14/1917 - 2/02/2003)

Born in Portland in 1917, the American composer Lou Harrison won a particular reputation for his percussion music, his experiments in intonation, and his synthesis of East and West in his music.  A pupil and friend of Henry Cowell, whose interest in other musical traditions he shared, he also profited from a close study of the work of Charles Ives.  He collaborated with John Cage in San Francisco, studied under Schoenberg in Los Angeles, wrote under Virgil Thomson in New York, continuing a varied career and the development of his many gifts as a poet, artist and musician.

Orchestral and Instrumental Music

Lou Harrison's compositions include four symphonies, but the greater part of his work lies in a wide variety of compositions for Western and Eastern instruments, notably, in the latter case, for the gamelan, with which he experimented in later years.  His Suite for Symphonic Strings, with its opening Estampie and allusive classical movement titles is characteristic of the breadth of his cultural and musical grasp.

Vocal Music

Harrison's varied compositions for voices include his Strict Songs for eight baritones and chamber orchestra, completed in 1955.


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