Otto Luening

Otto Luening
Birth name Otto Clarence Luening
Born (1900-06-15)June 15, 1900
Died September 2, 1996(1996-09-02) (aged 96)
Occupation(s) Composer, Conductor

Otto Clarence Luening (June 15, 1900 September 2, 1996) was a German-American composer and conductor, and an early pioneer of tape music and electronic music.

Luening was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to German parents, Eugene, a conductor and composer, and Emma (nee Jacobs), an amateur singer. When he was 12, his family moved to Munich, where he studied music at the State Academy of Music. At age 17, he moved to Switzerland and attended the Municipal Conservatory of Music in Zurich and University of Zurich, where he studied with Ferruccio Busoni and Philipp Jarnach, and was also an actor and stage manager for James Joyce's English Players Company. He returned to the United States in 1924, and appeared mainly as a conductor of operas, in Chicago and the Eastman School of Music.[1]

His conducting premieres included Virgil Thomson's The Mother of Us All, Gian Carlo Menotti's The Medium, and his own Evangeline.[1]

Luening's 'Tape Music', including A Poem in Cycles & Bells, Gargoyles for Violin & Synthesized Sound, and Sounds of New Music demonstrated the early potential of synthesizers and special editing techniques for electronic music. An October 28, 1952 concert with Vladimir Ussachevsky at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City introduced Fantasy in Space, flute recordings manipulated on magnetic tape, and led to an appearance on The Today Show with Dave Garroway. Luening was co-founder, along with Ussachevsky, of the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center in 1958. He also co-founded Composers Recordings, Inc. in 1954, with Douglas Moore and Oliver Daniel.

He also set songs to words by Oscar Wilde, Emily Dickinson, Lord Byron, Walt Whitman, William Blake, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Sharpe, Naidu, Hermann Hesse, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.[1]

He died in New York City in 1996.

His notable students include Chou Wen-chung, Charles Wuorinen, John Corigliano, Harvey Sollberger, Faye-Ellen Silverman, Dave Soldier, Dan Cooper, Malcolm Goldstein, John Herbert McDowell, Philip Corner, Daniel Goode, Sol Berkowitz, Elliott Schwartz, Bernard Garfield and Karl Korte. See: List of music students by teacher: K to M#Otto Luening.

Personal life

He married Ethel Codd on April 19, 1927, and divorced in 1959. He married Catherine Brunson, a music teacher, September 5, 1959, and was with her until his death.




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