Alvin Lucier, pioneering experimental composer, dead at 90

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Pioneering experimental composer Alvin Lucier died at his home in Middletown, CT after complications from a fall. He was 90.

Born in New Hampshire in 1931, Lucier studied music theory at Yale and co-founded the Sonic Arts Union in 1966 alongside fellow experimental composers including Robert Ashley, David Behrman, and Gordon Mumma. His works were often highly conceptual, often based around scientific ideas that created soundscapes. His most famous work was 1969’s I Am Sitting in a Room, which featured Lucier narrating a piece of text, which was recorded and then played back and recorded, with the process repeated again and again as the original voice becomes more distorted and and takes on new life. His 1990 piece “Nothing Is Real” featured melody fragments from THe Beatles “Strawberry Fields Forever” which is recorded and played back through a speaker in a teapot.

He also taught composition at Wesleyan University for more than four decades, from 1968 to 2011, and composed works commissioned by such ensembles as Bang on a Can All-Stars, Alter Ego, Ensemble Pamplemousse and ICE.

Rest in peace, Alvin. Watch performances of a few of his famous works, and watch a Red Bull Music Academy interview with him from 2017, below.



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