Lou Harrison

The American composer, dancer, dance accompanist, instrument builder and puppeteer Lou Harrison was born in Oregon on 14 May 1917. He spent his childhood in the San Francisco Bay area, influenced by diverse cultures which included Californian Spanish and Mexican, Cantonese Opera, Gregorian Chant and Indonesian Gamelan music. His first work was as a dancer and dance accompanist, but he also began producing percussion compositions with home-made instruments, working closely with John Cage and studying with Arnold Schoenberg.

In New York in the 1940s Harrison worked as a music critic for the Herald Tribune, bringing attention to the music of Charles Ives, and he taught at Black Mountain College before moving back to California, where he remained for the rest of his life.

Lou Harrison (1917-2003)
Lou Harrison (1917-2003)


Harrison's powerful music captures styles from all over the world, successfully transcending cultural boundaries, and placing him at the forefront of American composers.

Lou Harrison died on Sunday 2 February 2003, aged eighty-five, collapsing in Chicago whilst travelling to a festival of his music in Ohio.


A selection of articles about Lou Harrison

CD Spotlight. Californian, Dreaming - 'The Floating Bubble' by Ron George, recommended by Malcolm Tattersall. '... subtle long-range structures shaped with minimal scoring ...'

DVD Spotlight. A Wonderful Introduction - The work of Harry Partch, reviewed by Malcolm Tattersall. '... the musical language is direct and approachable.'

Ensemble. All Good Things ... - Malcolm Tattersall's final report from the 2006 Australian Festival of Chamber Music

Ensemble. Sunshine and Stars - The Australian Festival of Chamber Music 2006 continues, and Malcolm Tattersall sends a second report

Ensemble. Energy and Style - A concert by the Boca Raton Philharmonic Symphonia, reviewed by Lawrence Budmen