Lou Harrison (1917-2003)

The Music Of Lou Harrison (1940-1979)

    Concerto In Slendro (1961) (9:37)

  1. I. - Allegro 3:06
  2. II. - Molto Adagio 4:19
  3. III. - Allegro; Molto Vigoroso 2:13

  4. Main Bersama-Sama (1978) 7:21
  5. Threnody For Carlos Chavez (1979) 7:06
  6. Serenade (1978) 5:48

    String Quartet Set (1978-9) (26:27)

  7. I. - Variations 5:17
  8. II. - Plaint 4:12
  9. III. - Estampe 3:57
  10. IV. - Rondeaux 8:17
  11. V. - Usul 4:34

    Suite For Percussion (1940) (9:38)

  12. I. - Moderato 3:34
  13. II. - Slow 3:04
  14. III. - Recitative; Moderato Allegro 2:43

The best single-disk introduction to Lou Harrison’s musicis the reissue of the old CRI LP Lou Harrison: Chamber and Gamelan Works on New World. It includes several of his finest gamelan works, his now titled String Quartet Set (played by the Kronos), Concerto in Slendro, and his early Suite for Percussion. Another worthy overview is Lou Harrison In Retrospect, containing one of his finest ballet scores, 195?’s Solstice, his magnificent Four Strict Songs (one of Harrison’s first adventures in tuning), and more.

Recorded in 1965 (12-14), 1972 (1-3), 1979 (4-6) and 1980 (7-11)

Celesta – Patricia Jennerjohn (tracks: 1 to 3)
Cello – Joan Jeanrenaud (tracks: 7 to 11)
French Horn – Scott L. Hartmann (tracks: 4)
Composed By – Lou Harrison
Conductor – Paul Price (tracks: 12 to 14), Robert Hughes (2) (tracks: 1 to 3)
Percussion – Don Marconi (tracks: 1 to 3), Jerome Neff (tracks: 1 to 3)
Piano [Tack Piano I] – Machiko Kobialka (tracks: 1 to 3)
Piano [Tack Piano Il] – James Barbagallo (tracks: 1 to 3)
Suling – Lou Harrison (tracks: 6)
Viola – Hank Dutt (tracks: 7 to 11)
Violin – Daniel Kobialka (tracks: 1 to 3), David Harrington (tracks: 7 to 11), John Sherba (tracks: 7 to 11), Susan Bates (tracks: 5)
Ensemble – Gamelan Sekar Kembar (tracks: 4 to 6), Kronos Quartet (tracks: 7 to 11), Manhattan Percussion Ensemble, The* (tracks: 12 to 14)

Drums Along The Pacific

  1. Threnody For Carlos Chavez (8:53)

    Directed By [Director] – William Winant
    Gamelan – Gamelan Sekar Kembar
    Performer – Carla Fabrizio, David Johnson, Gordon Smith, Joel Davel, Sam Ospovat, Todd Manley
    Viola – Geraldine Walther

  2. Simfony # 13 (8:04)

    Cowbell [Cowbells], Percussion [Water Buffalo Bells], Wood Block [Wood Blocks] – David Johnson
    Gong [Suspended And Muted], Tam-tam [Large], Percussion [Elephant Bell], Cymbal, Triangle – William Winant
    Orchestra – William Winant Percussion Group
    Temple Bells, Drums [Suspended And Muted Automobile Brake] – Todd Manley
    Tom Tom [Tom-Toms], Drum [Contrabass] – David Rosenthal

  3. Music For Violin With Various Instruments - European, Asian & African (11:09)

    I Allegro, Vigoroso (3:38)

    II Largo (4:15)

    III Allegro Moderato (3:16)

    Mbira [1], Drums [Chinese] – William Winant
    Mbira [2], Organ [Reed] – Julie Steinberg
    Mbira [3], Psaltery – Jennifer Cass
    Mbira [4] – Gordon Smith (13)
    Violin – David Abel

  4. Fugue (3:55)

    Bells [Meditation], Drums [Brake], Percussion [Washtub] – David Rosenthal (6)
    Idiophone [Flexatone], Claves, Maracas – William Winant
    Metallophone, Percussion [Box], Cowbell [Cowbells] – Daniel Kennedy
    Orchestra – William Winant Percussion Group
    Percussion [Bell-Coils], Bass Drum, Gong [Gongs], Cymbal [Suspended Turkish], Triangle [Triangles] – Todd Manley

  5. Song Of Quetzalcóatl (6:32)

    Cowbell [5 Cowbells], Drums [5 Suspended And Muted Brake], Rattle [Wooden] – Todd Manley
    Orchestra – William Winant Percussion Group
    Percussion [5 Glasses, 5 Dragon's Mouths, Sistrums], Wood Block [5 Woodblocks] – William Winant
    Snare [Snare Drum], Guiro, Percussion [Windglass], Triangle, Gong, Tam-tam – David Rosenthal (6)
    Tom Tom [5 Tom-Toms], Drum [Contrabass] – Daniel Kennedy

  6. Canticle # 3 (14:36)

    Bells [Water Buffalo, Medium Elephant], Percussion [Wooden Box, Sistrums] – Daniel Kennedy
    Conductor – Dennis Russell Davies
    Drums [Suspended And Muted Brake], Xylophone [Small], Temple Block [Temple Blocks], Maracas, Bells [Small Elephant] – William Winant
    Guitar – Robert Strizich
    Ocarina – Leta Miller
    Percussion [5 Tongued Teponazli], Cowbell [5 Cowbells], Tam-tam [Large] – Todd Manley
    Pipe [6 Pipes], Wood Block [5 Woodblocks] – Scott Evans (3)
    Snare [Snare Drum], Tom Tom [Tom-Toms], Drum [Contrabass], Bells [Large Elephant] – David Rosenthal (6)

  7. Solo To Anthony Cirone (2:43)

    Bells [Tenor] – William Winant

Track 1 composed in 1978; published by Hermes Beard Press; recorded at Fantasy Records, Berkeley, August 2002
Track 2 composed in 1941; published by Belwin-Mills; recorded at Fantasy Records, Berkeley, August 2002
Tracks 3-5 composed in 1967, revised 1969; published by Peer Music; recorded at Fantasy Records, Berkeley, August 2002
Track 6 composed in 1942; published by Music for Percussion, Inc.; recorded at Bay Records, Berkeley, August 1993
Track 7 composed in 1941; published by Music for Percussion, Inc.; recorded at Bay Records, Berkeley, August 1993
Track 8 composed in 1942, revised 1989; published by Music for Percussion, Inc.; recorded at U.C. Santa Cruz, Performing Arts Concert Hall, July 1989
Track 9 composed in 1972; published by Hermes Beard Press; recorded at the home of Lou Harrison, Aptos, December 2002
Tracks 6 & 7 previously released on 'The Perilous Chapel', NA 055 CD
Track 8 originally released on MusicMasters MMD 60241X
Total Time 56:22

Gamelan Music

  1. Philemon And Baukis 12:35
  2. Cornish Lancaran 5:31
  3. Gending Alexander 13:23
  4. Homage To Pacifica-Prelude 6:34
  5. Homage To Pacifica-In Honor Of The Divine Mr. Handel 5:46
  6. Homage To Pacifica - In Honor Of Mr. Mark Twain 6:09
  7. Homage To Pacifica - Interlude 4:25
  8. Homage To Pacifica - Ode 0:38
  9. Homage To Pacifica - Interlude 2:13
  10. Homage To Pacifica - Litany 2:21
  11. Homage To Pacifica - In Honor Of Chief Seattle 8:43
  12. Bubaran Robert 5:57

Gamelan music: Harrison was a great student of all Western music (he was especially enamored of Baroque music) and many non Western traditions, but nothing enchanted him so much as the Javanese gamelan music he first heard in late 1930s San Francisco and began to seriously study in the 1970s. By the end of his life, he’d come to favor the sound of Javanese gamelan orchestras as “the most beautiful music on the planet.” In a late career resurgence rare among vanguard artists, Harrison composed some of his most radiant music for those ensembles of tuned percussion and other instruments, including a number of pieces featuring Western classical instruments such as harp, trumpet, violin, and even saxophone. Harrison’s CD Gamelan Music on MusicMasters offers several other of his finest Javanese gamelan works, including the rapturous Philemon and Baukis. Beginning in the 1960s, Harrison also composed for what he called an American gamelan of per-cussion instruments that he built with his life partner, Bill Colvig. The CD called La Koro Sutro contains the title work for those instruments plus chorus singing the Buddhist Heart Sutra in Esperanto (a language Harrison used himself), his equally compelling Suite for Violin and American Gamelan (no 20th century composer surpassed Harrison in writing violin melodies), and the delicately shimmering Varied Trio for, among other instruments, tuned rice bowls and chopsticks. -- Brett Campbell


  1. Avalokiteshvara 2:16

    Drums – Joel Davel
    Percussion [Water Bowls] – Scott Evans, William Winant

  2. Threnody To The Memory Of Oliver Daniel 2:13
  3. Sonata In Ishartum 1:38
  4. Beverly's Troubadour Piece 1:27

    Drums – Scott Evans
    Finger Cymbals, Percussion [Sistra] – William Winant

  5. Music For Bill And Me 3:34
  6. Jahla - In The Form Of A Ductia To Pleasure Leopold Stokowski On His Ninetieth Birthday 1:48

    Finger Cymbals, Percussion [Sistra] – William Winant

  7. Serenado Por Gitaro 1:50
  8. Plaint 3:45
  9. Variations On Walter Von Der Vogelweide's "Song Of Palestine" 5:10

  10. Serenade For Guitar

    Round 1:44

    Air 3:12
    Gong – William Winant

    Infinite Canon 1:33

    Finger Cymbals, Drum [Medium] – William Winant Usul - Little Homage To Sinan 2:47

    Finger Cymbals, Drums [Medium] – William Winant

    Sonata 1:59

    Drums [Medium] – William Winant

  11. Scenes From Nek Chand

    The Leaning Lady 5:37

    The Rock Garden 2:05

    The Sinuous Arcade With Swings In The Arches 3:29

    Tandy's Tango 3:17

    A Waltz For Evelyn Hinrichsen 2:08

    Steel Guitar [National] – David Tanenbaum
    Guitar [Second] – Gyan Riley

Percussion – William Winant
Guitar, Arranged By – David Tanenbaum
Gregory Stuart Byers, tracks 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10-14, 19
Daniel Freiderich, tracks 2, 6, 8, 9, 18
National Steel by National Resophonic Guitars, tracks 15-17
Strings: Augustine

The Equal-Tempered Lou Harrison: Piano Music of Lou Harrison

  1. For Merce Cunninghams 75th Birthday
  2. Three Waltzes I
  3. Three Waltzes II
  4. Three Waltzes III
  5. Triphony
  6. Suite for Piano I
  7. Suite for Piano II
  8. Suite for Piano III
  9. Suite for Piano IV
  10. Suite for Piano V
  11. Sonatas for Cembalo or Pianoforte I
  12. Sonatas for Cembalo or Pianoforte II
  13. Sonatas for Cembalo or Pianoforte III
  14. Saraband
  15. Prelude for Grand Piano
  16. Tandy's Tango

Michael Boriskin, piano

  1. A1 Lou Harrison – Sonata No. 2 2:43

    Harpsichord – Susan Summerfield

    Lou Harrison was born May 14, 1917, in Portland, Oregon. He attended San Francisco State College and studied with Henry Cowell; his other composition teachers were the equally prominent musicians Arnold Schoenberg and Virgil Thomson. Harrison is the recipient of numerous awards, honors, and grants, including the Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and Fulbright. He is a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Harrison's music is known for his original and sensitive use of percussion-the ,orchestra' of which his music has enlarged--as well as for his employment of just intonation and subtle use of fine pitch distinctions and relationships. It is also widely recognized for its lyricism and its wide assimilation of techniques from both Eastern and Western musics. Harrison conducted some of his experiments in percussion at Mills in the 1930's and returned to teach in 1980, initially as Darius Milhaud Professor of Music.

    """Written during the years 1936-1940, the Six Sonatas for Cembalo reflect what Mr. Harrison calls the Californian or Mission Style: there are alternating pieces written to portray either Spanish or Amer-Indian influences in architecture and music of the New World. The Sonatas first appeared in 1943 as an entire quarterly edition of New Music Editions, landmark collections published by Henry Cowell. They were subsequently performed all over the world during the Second World War by such noted players as Sylvia Marlowe and Ralph Kirkpatrick. The Sonatas precede by several years the American revival of baroque literature as seen in the work of Landowska and Kirkpatrick, and they are particularly well suited for today's attention to the rococo and baroque eras. They are all written in the two-reprise sonata form of the baroque, a form which we know was a favorite of Scarlatti.

    Sonata No. 2, which appears in this album, is an example of the Amer-Indian style. In each repeated section, I have added ornaments to decorate the fast-moving repeated notes and trills which are written into the music." (Susan Summerfield)

    Susan Summerfield is Associate Professor of Music at Mills and has been teaching there since 1977. She is an organist, harpsichordist and historian of early keyboard performance, with a particular love of the art of improvisation.

    From Music From Mills (1986)

Young Caesar: A Puppet Opera by Lou Harrison, Part 1 1'04"
Young Caesar: A Puppet Opera by Lou Harrison, Part 2 1'02"
Young Caesar: A Puppet Opera by Lou Harrison, Part 3 30"

On December 25, 1974, as a Christmas special, the Fruit Punch Collective presented a recording of the 1971 world premiere performance of Lou Harrison’s gay-oriented opera, “Young Caesar”. The story of the opera explores the meeting and purported subsequent love affair between the young Julius Caesar and King Nicomedes IV of Bithynia. In addition to desiring to write an opera with a homosexual theme Harrison was also attracted to the story about Caesar and Nicomedes because it represented the meeting between East and West. Building upon that theme the musical score calls for a variety of Eastern instruments including gamelan, and rather than using real actors, puppets and shadow figures were utilized instead, much as they are in Indonesia. The homoerotic nature of the story was made quite evident in such scenes as the ballet of puppet phalli, a point that needed to be advertised in advance so as to prevent some from thinking this was a puppet show meant for children. At the end of this program Lou Harrison and his partner and collaborator William Colvig are interviewed by members of the Fruit Punch Collective in which the opera, Harrison’s experiences as a gay man growing up in San Francisco, and as his interest in different tuning systems are all discussed.

Percussion Music: From Lou Harrison’s collection of 78 rpm acetate records (March 10, 1971)

On this installment of Ode to Gravity, Charles Amirkhanian unearths rare gems from Lou Harrison’s personal record collection. Amirkhanian focuses on percussion music from the late 1930s and early 1940s, broadcasting selections by American composers Harrison, Henry Cowell, Johanna Beyer and William Russell. Many of these recordings were made live at one of John Cage’s famous percussion concerts, in 1939 at the Cornish School in Seattle. The final selection features Leopold Stokowski conducting Harrison’s Canticle #3 at New York’s MOMA. The recordings were made from Harrison’s rare 78 and 33 rpm acetate transcription discs.