American avant-garde composer Alvin Lucier has died, aged 90.
The news was confirmed by his former wife and collaborator Mary Lucier on Facebook, with his daughter, Amanda Lucier, later telling The New York Times that the cause of death was complications from a fall. Lucier passed away at his home in Middletown, Connecticut.
Lucier, who is regarded as one of the great experimental composers alongside peers such as John Cage and Philip Glass, was known for his long-form experimental pieces and installations, which often explored room acoustics and unusual sources for sound. His standout 1969 piece ‘I Am Sitting In A Room’ saw him explore spatial acoustics by recording the piece’s titular phrase in spoken word and playing it into a room, before re-recording it over and over until the words became unrecognisable.
Born in 1931 in Nashua, New Hampshire, Lucier studied music theory and composition at Yale, later furthering his education at Brandeis University. In 1960, he travelled to Rome on a Fullbright Fellowship, and took in performances of works by the likes of John Cage and David Tudor. In 1966, he joined the Sonic Arts Union alongside composers like David Behrman, Robert Ashley and Gordon Mumma.
In 1962, he returned to Brandeis University to take up a teaching post, staying there until 1970 when he became a professor of music at Wesleyan University.
Lucier continued to work on various projects in the following decades, releasing one of his final works earlier this year in the form of ‘Music For Piano XL’, a collaboration with French pianist Nicolas Horvath.
Listen to Lucier’s ‘I Am Sitting In A Room’ below.
Tributes have been paid for Lucier from throughout the experimental and electronic music worlds. See some of them below.
RIP and thank you Alvin Lucier https://t.co/uQnzTQcfWB
— Holly Herndon (@hollyherndon) December 1, 2021
Thank you alvin lucier. You were a wellspring of curiosity, provocation and truly experimental in your ways. RIP
— lawrence english (@room40speaks) December 1, 2021
Farewell, Alvin Lucier. Thank you for everything pic.twitter.com/LN3hogCd4B
— clipping. (@clppng) December 1, 2021
R.I.P. Alvin Lucier. Gutted to hear of this loss to experimental music. If you want a path into the work and haven’t yet seen this film, seek it out: https://t.co/r7ySR4ra44
— DREW DANIEL (@DDDrewDaniel) December 1, 2021
o my god rip alvin lucier. one of the most profoundly influential composers for me personally. his work completely rearranged how i thought about music and saved me in a lot of ways. gutted
— more eaze (@more_eaze) December 1, 2021
RiP Alvin Lucier
I feel so lucky to have gotten to watch him perform and shake his hand. A sweet man with an incredible brain. If you don’t know his work, please look it up and listen and read about him. pic.twitter.com/q90865QAxR
— Aaron Dilloway (@AaronDilloway) December 1, 2021