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Harry Partch A Biography cover
  • ISBN: 9780300065213
  • ISBN10: 0300065213

Harry Partch a Biography

by Bob Gilmore

  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Yale Univ Pr
  • Publish date: 05/01/1998
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A Biography

"Harry Partch: A Biography reads like a great mystery...How did one of America's truly visionary composers, instrument builders, and rough-hewn individualists survive and persevere through horror at a young age, homelessness in the prime of his life, and nearly constant rejection and alienation by our culture? Bob Gilmore tells the whole story in this thoroughly researched, tragic, poignant, warm, and vividly memorable biography". -- David Harrington, Kronos Quartet

Visionary composer, theorist, and creator of musical instruments, Harry, Partch (1901-1974) was a leading figure in the development of an indigenously American contemporary music. A pioneer in his explorations of new instruments and new tunings, Partch created multimedia theater works that combine sight and sound in a compelling synthesis. He is acknowledged as a major inspiration to postwar experimental composers as diverse as Gyorgy Ligeti, Lou Harrison, Philip Glass, and Laurie Anderson, and his book Genesis of a Music, first published in 1949, is now considered a classic.

This book is the first to tell the complete story of Partch's life and work. Drawing on interviews with many of Partch's associates and on the complete archives of the Harry Partch Estate, Bob Gilmore provides a full and sympathetic portrait of this extraordinary creative artist. He describes Partch's complicated relationships with friends, patrons, the musical establishment, and the world at large. He traces Partch's upbringing in the remote desert towns of the Southwest, his explosive encounter with formal music education in Los Angeles, and his revolutionary course as a composer that began with an interest in the musicality ofspeech patterns. After immersing himself in hobo subculture during the Depression, Partch came to occupy a lonely and uncompromising position as a cultural outsider. Richly fascinating in themselves, Partch's compositions, writings, and life also have much to reveal about American society and the creative impulses of the artistic avant-garde.

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Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. Contains: Illustrations, black & white.
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