Alvin Lucier Alvin Lucier
1931Alvin Lucier is born in Nashua, New Hampshire, into a family of French Canadian-Irish descent. His father, a lawyer, is a gifted amateur violinist and his mother an accomplished pianist. Music plays an important role in the family’s life.
1950 - 1954Lucier studies music theory and composition at Yale University (BA ’54)
1958 - 1960Lucier continues his studies at Brandeis University (MFA ’60)
1958/59During the summers, Lucier studies with Lukas Foss and Aaron Copland at Tanglewood Center. At that time Lucier composes mainly in a Stravinsky-like neoclassical style.
1960 - 1962Lucier spends two years in Rome on a Fulbright Fellowship, where he discovers the European Avant-garde Music of Nono, Boulez and Stockhausen. In Europe, performances of John Cage and David Tudor leave a strong impression on him and strengthen his decision to not imitate the Europeans, but to develop his own artistic style.
1962Returning from Europe, Lucier stops composing for several years and teaches at Brandeis University where he also conducts the Brandeis University Chamber Chorus that performs many works of new music.
1965Music for Solo Performer (the “brain wave piece”) marks a breakthrough in Lucier’s compositional career and the beginning of a lifelong exploration of the physical properties of sound phenomena, new ways of auditory perception and unconventional forms of musical notation.
1966 - 1976Alvin Lucier, Robert Ashley, David Behrman and Gordon Mumma form the SONIC ARTS UNION, a composers’ collective whose members perform each other’s music, share equipment and set out for concert tours in the U.S. and Europe.
1972 -1979Lucier is musical director of the Viola Farber Dance Company.
1970 - 2011Lucier leaves Brandeis for Wesleyan University where he is John Spencer Camp Professor of Music for more than forty years, inspiring numerous generations of composers including Arnold Dreyblatt, Nicolas Collins, Ron Kuivila, Douglas Kahn, Daniel James Wolf and Markus Trunk

Alvin Lucier has pioneered in many areas of musical composition, performance and sound installation, including the use of brain waves in live performance, echolocation, interferences, difference tones as well as the evocation of room acoustics for musical purposes. In the Eighties, Lucier started to write pieces for solo instruments, chamber ensembles and orchestra. In most of these pieces, by means of close tunings, sound waves are caused to produce acoustical beating and spin through space.

Several of Lucier’s key works are now regarded as “classics” of contemporary music, among them Music for Solo Performer (1965), Vespers (1968), I am Sitting in a Room (1970) and Music on a long thin wire (1977).

Lucier performs, lectures and exhibits his sound installations at concerts and music festivals all over the world.

He is married to Wendy Stokes, a psychiatric APRN and former dancer. Their daughter, Amanda Lucier, is a photojournalist.

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