- His ex-wife, Mary Lucier, announced the news via social media today, December 1st.
Alvin Lucier, a pioneering American musician whose work brought physical spaces into sound, has passed away at the age of 90.
The news was revealed by his ex-wife Mary Lucier via a Facebook post. No cause of death is known but Lucier has previously mentioned in interviews that he suffered from Parkinson's disease.
Born in New Hampshire in 1931, the artist was known for radical compositions and shows that defined his multi-decade career. Material reality was a big theme across his work, with many pieces intrinsically tied to their surrounding environment. In his 1972 performance Queen Of The South, a metal plate with sand vibrated to the voices of singers. Action Music For Piano from 1962 incorporated the physical gestures of players while Music For Solo Performer from 1965 is considered to be the first musical work that used human brain waves to generate sound.
I Am Sitting In A Room is easily Lucier's most famous production. The 1970 performance saw him repeatedly play and record his voice into a room, with the recordings gradually taking on more texture of the room. In honour of Lucier's 90th birthday this past May, New York's Issue Project Room hosted a 26-hour stream featuring 90 artists performing I Am Sitting In A Room, while Berlin-based Sound on Paper Editions released a box set containing archival recordings of the composition, a book and photos.
While Lucier devoted much of his time to composing music for traditional Western instruments, he also dabbled with rhythms of other cultures, as seen by his fifteen-minute track "Music For Gamelan Instruments, Microphones, Amplifiers And Loudspeakers."
As a writer and professor, Lucier held several prestigious positions at American institutions, including Wesleyan University where he was John Spencer Camp Professor Of Music. His book, Chambers, written in collaboration with Douglas Simon, was published in 2012. Among his many other accomplishments, he cofounded the Sonic Arts Union with composers Robert Ashley, David Behrman and Gordan Mumma in 1966 and frequently collaborated with theatre directors and dance choreographers.
Speaking to the New York Times earlier this year, Lucier indicated his creative spirit was still going strong. "I must confess that I am executing crazy ideas I have had in my mind for years but never have had the courage to realize," he said.
For more on Lucier's process, revisit his 2017 interview with Red Bull Music Academy.