Otto Luening Plugs America into Electronic Music

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Otto Luening

Otto Luening was one of the first American composers to work with electronic tape music. His collaborations with Vladimir Ussachevsky led to the formation of the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, the first of its kind in America and a crucial breeding ground for many American electronic composers.

As Luening describes his work, the discussion moves to his Fantasy in Space and the making of its electronic sounds in his apartment. The composer felt the need for more thoughtfulness and experimentation on the basis that electronic sounds can do actual damage to people.

Despite technological leaps, Luening thought of himself as an evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, composer. And although his music was a radical departure for its time, Luening was never under the illusion that instruments or the human voice would be replaced by advances in electronic music.

Music heard in this interview includes: The Sonata for Piano in Memorium to Ferruccio Busoni and Fantasy in Space.

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