Lou Harrison

Lou Silver Harrison (May 14, 1917 – February 2, 2003) was an American composer, music critic, music theorist, painter, and creator of unique musical instruments. Harrison initially wrote in a dissonant, ultramodernist style similar to his former teacher and contemporary, Henry Cowell, but later moved toward incorporating elements of non-Western cultures into his work. Notable examples include a number of pieces written for Javanese style gamelan instruments, inspired after studying with noted gamelan musician Kanjeng Notoprojo in Indonesia. Harrison would create his own musical ensembles and instruments with his partner, William Colvig, who are now both considered founders of the American gamelan movement and world music; along with composers Harry Partch and Claude Vivier, and ethnomusicologist Colin McPhee.

The majority of Harrison's works and custom instruments are written for just intonation rather than the more widespread equal temperament, making him one of the most prominent composers to have experimented with microtones. He was also one of the first composers to have written in the international language Esperanto, and among the first to incorporate strong themes of homosexuality in his music.

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