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Lucier, Alvin

was born in 1931 in Nashua, New Hampshire. He was educated in Nashua public and parochial schools, the Portsmouth Abbey School, Yale, and Brandeis and spent two years in Rome on a Fulbright Scholarship. From 1962 to 1970 he taught at Brandeis where he conducted the Brandeis University Chamber Chorus, which devoted much of its time to the performance of new music. In 1966, along with Robert Ashley, David Behrman and Gordon Mumma, he cofounded the Sonic Arts Union. From 1968 to 2011 he taught at the Wesleyan University where he was John Spencer Camp Professor of Music.

He lectures and performs extensively in Asia, Europe, and the United States. He has collaborated with John Ashbury (Theme) and Robert Wilson (Skin, Meat, Bone). His recent sound installation, 6 Resonant Points Along a Curved Wall, accompanied Sol DeWitt’s enormous sculpture, Curved Wall, in Graz and in the Zilkha Gallery, Wesleyan University in January 2005. Recent instrumental works include Coda Variations for six-valve solo tuba; Twonings for cello and piano; Canon, commissioned by the Bang on a Can All Stars, and Music with Missing Parts, a reorchestration of Mozart’s Requiem, premiered at the Mozarteum in Salzburg in December 2007. In October 2012 Two Circles, a chamber work, commissioned by the Venice Biennale, was premiered there by the Alter Ego Ensemble and in December 2013 a new work, December 12th, was performed by the Ensemble Pamplemousse at the Issue Project Room, Brooklyn and Firewood, performed in March 2014 by the Bang on a Can All Stars at Merkin Hall, New York. Lucier has recently completed two new chamber works: Orpheus Variations for solo cello and seven wind instruments and Hanover for violin, alto and tenor saxophones, piano, percussion and three banjos.

In 2013 he was the guest composer at the Tectonics Festival in Glasgow, the Ultima Festival in Oslo, and gave a portrait concert at the Louvre with cellist Charles Curtis. Recent events in 2014 include three evenings of Lucier’s works presented by the International Contemporary Ensemble, in Chicago; two concerts at Roulette, performed by the Callithumpian Consort, as well as several concerts at the Tectonics Festival in Reykjavik. In October 2014 Lucier was honoured with a three-day festival of his works at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

Reflections/Reflexionen, a bilingual edition of his scores, interviews and writings, is available from MusikTexte (Cologne). In September 2012 the Wesleyan Press published Lucier’s latest book, Music 109: Notes on Experimental Music. In 2013 New World Records released a recording of three of Lucier’s orchestra works. His music is published by Material Press in Frankfurt am Main.

Alvin Lucier was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Society for Electroacoustic Music in the United States and received an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from the University of Plymouth, England. In November 2011 Wesleyan University celebrated Alvin Lucier’s retirement with a three-day festival of his works.


Major works (since 1995): Serenade for oboe and string quartet (1995), Music for violin and alto saxophone (1995), Still Lives for piano and slow-sweep pure wave oscillators (1995), Q for violin, clarinet, cello, trombone and double bass with sine waves (1996), Canon for clarinet, vibraphone, piano, cello, electric guitar and double bass (1996), Two Twenty-two (birthday memo for Jean Shaw) for violin, clarinet, cello, trombone and double bass (1996), Sizzles for organ and percussion (1997), Opera with Objects for one performer with resonant objects (1997), I Remember for chorus with resonant objects (1997), Cassiopeia (5 Stars in the Shape of a “W”) for small orchestra (1998), Islands for five musicians and five assistants with amplified snare drums and electronics (1998), Wave Songs for female voice and pure wave oscillators (1998), Heavier Than Air for any number of players with carbon dioxide filled balloons (1999), Diamonds for 1–3 orchestras (1999), Sestina for contrabass flute, contrabass saxophone and contrabass tuba or another contrabass instrument (2000), Fruits and Vegetables for baritone, piano and slow-sweep pure wave oscillators (2000), Ovals for chamber orchestra and slowsweep pure wave oscillators (2001), 947 for flute with pure wave oscillators (2001), Glacier for cello (2001), Violynn for solo violin with pure wave oscillators (2001), Ever Present for flute, saxophone, piano and slow-sweep pure wave oscillators (2002), Tapper for violin (2002), Charles Curtis for cello slow-sweep pure wave oscillators (2002), Almost New York for five flutes (one performer) with slow-sweep pure wave oscillators (2002), Bar Lazy J for tenor trombone and clarinet in B(2003), The Exploration of the House for orchestra and tape (live and playback) (2005), Broken Line for flute, vibraphone and piano (2006), Twonings for flute, vibraphone and piano (2006), Slices for cello and orchestra (2007), Just Before Dark for small orchestra and slow-sweep pure wave oscillators (2nd version, 2010), Four Kettledrums for four kettledrum players (2010), Icecles for alto flute, clarinet, tuba and piano (2010), Panorama II for trombone and 13 strings (2011), Two Circles for flute, clarinet in B, violin, cello and piano (2012), Serenade for 13 brass and slow-sweep pure wave oscillators (1985–2012), On the Carpet of Leaves Illuminated by the Moon for koto, cello / acoustic guitar and pure wave oscillators (2000–12), Braid for alto flute, clarinet, English horn and string quartet (2012), Still and Moving Lines of Silence in Families of Hyperbolas, 12 pieces for instruments or for voice with pure wave oscillators (1972–2013), Codex for soprano, violin, oboe, clarinet in B, guitar and harp (2013), Criss-Cross for two electric guitars (2013), Shadow Lines for electric guitar, cello, double bass, clarinet in Band trombone (2013), 13 Degrees of Darkness for two flutes / flute and recorded flute (2013), December 12th for flute, violin, cello, piano and slow-sweep pure wave oscillators (2013), Firewood for clarinet, vibraphone, piano, electric guitar, cello and double bass (2013), Step, Slide and Sustain for horn in F, cello and piano (2014), Orpheus Variations for solo cello, two flutes, horn in F, two trumpets in B and two trombones (2014).