Vladimir Ussachevsky, born 100 years ago today, Nov. 3, 1911


Nov 3 2011 - 12:00am
Tape music pioneer, Vladimir Ussachevsky, was born in 1911 in Hailar, Manchuria, China. He came to the U.S. in 1930 with an extensive musical training, and exposure to Russian church choral music. After earning his Ph.D. from the Eastman School of Music, he came to Columbia University, eventually to found and direct the Electronic Music Center there. He retired from Columbia in 1980 and became director of the electronic music studio at the University of Utah. His works for instruments and chorus have been overshadowed by his renowned creative work in the tape medium. Through his experiments with unconventional uses of taped sounds, several precedent-setting pieces were created, including works for tape recorder and orchestra, such as Colloquy, and theatre music for Orson Welles' New York production of King Lear. He died in New York City in 1990. Former students of Ussachevsky, including Pril Smiley and Alice Shields, have been at the forefront of preserving Ussachevsky's legacy. Most of his tape materials have been archived in the American MemoryCollection at the Library of Congress in D.C. ACA has many score printing masters and some tape playback materials on hand for performances.