An Interview with Earle Brown: By Norma Beecroft


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Earle Brown
b.Lunenberg MA,1926 - d. New York NY, 2002

Interviewed by Norma Beecroft as part of her ebook, Conversations With Post World War II Pioneers of Electronic Music.
Recorded on audio cassette.
Digital transfer and editing: William Van Ree

Known as the New York School, whose members included John Cage, Morton Feldman and Christian Wolff, Earle Brown was a major figure in contemporary music since the 1950s. His particular approach -to composition was influenced by the conceptual attitudes toward art as practiced by Abstract Impressionists Alexander Calder and Jackson Pollock, and musical iconoclasts like Charles Ives and Carl Ruggles, also New Englanders.

With a background in engineering and mathematics, as well as studies in trumpet and big band performances, Earle Brown then pursued studies at the Schillinger House School of Music in Boston. In 1952 he moved to New York, and joined the Project for Music for Magnetic Tape organized by John Cage and David Tudor with sound engineers Louis and Bebe Barron. In 1954, Cage and Tudor performed works by Brown during their European tour, and the effect of this tour was lauded, often revered, and certainly scandalized by Europeans. To Europe, it was America.

Earle Brown’s influence on contemporary music has been extensive, with his experiments in time notation, improvisation and open-form composition. During his lifetime, he received many commissions, awards and residencies, among those at the California Institute of the Arts, Yale University, Tanglewood and Aspen Music Festivals, the American Academy in Rome and the Basel Conservatory of Music. On November 20, 2002, the Museum of Modern Art paid homage to Earle Brown, one of the great American composers of the 20th century in a program of his music.

You can read the transcript of the interview, along with interviews of 22 other electroacoustic composers, by purchasing the ebook here.