All at Grand Piano were saddened to hear of the passing of the experimental American composer Alvin Lucier, who has died at the age of 90.
Born and raised in New Hampshire, Lucier graduated from Yale in 1954, subsequently studying with Aaron Copland and Lukas Foss at the Tanglewood Center before spending two years in Rome on a Fulbright Fellowship, from 1960 to 1962. There, he became enthralled with the avant-garde sound worlds of Luigi Nono, Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen and went on to co-found the Sonic Arts Union, a composition collective dedicated to exploring the nature of sound. That exploration would be his life’s calling.
Lucier created a significant body of work which challenges some of the most fundamental definitions of music and performance, realising music material from sources that included amplified vases, clocks, a chest of drawers, even his own brain waves, focusing on acoustic phenomena and how listeners perceive it.
Grand Piano recently released one of his final works, a newly realised version of his Music for Piano with Slow Sweep Pure Wave Oscillators XL, which he wrote in 2020 for Nicolas Horvath, the performer on the album (GP857):
“It’s an immersive, intense and enigmatic work that transports the listener through the timbral possibilities of sonic interference. There are times when the sounds seem to move awkwardly or eerily; this is what Alvin was looking for … all those oddities that happen when the frequencies are very near to one another.”