La Monte Young

La Monte Thornton Young (born October 14, 1935) is an American composer, musician, and performance artist recognized as one of the first American minimalist composers and a central figure in Fluxus and post-war avant-garde music. He is best known for his exploration of sustained tones, beginning with his 1958 composition Trio for Strings. His compositions have called into question the nature and definition of music, most prominently in the text scores of his Compositions 1960. While few of his recordings remain in print, his work has inspired prominent musicians across various genres, including avant-garde, rock, and ambient music.

Young played jazz saxophone and studied composition in California during the 1950s, and subsequently moved to New York in 1960, where he was a central figure in the downtown music and Fluxus art scenes. He then became known for his pioneering work in drone music (originally called dream music) with his Theatre of Eternal Music collective, alongside collaborators such as Tony Conrad, John Cale, and his wife, the multimedia artist Marian Zazeela.

Since 1962, he has worked extensively with Zazeela, with whom he developed the Dream House sound and light environment. In 1964, he began work on his unfinished improvisatory composition The Well-Tuned Piano, iterations of which he has performed throughout subsequent decades. Beginning in 1970, he and Zazeela studied under Hindustani singer Pandit Pran Nath. In 2002, Young and Zazeela formed the Just Alap Raga Ensemble with their disciple Jung Hee Choi.

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