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Budd, Harold (Montgomery)

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Budd, Harold (Montgomery), highly original American composer, pianist, and poet; b. Los Angeles, May 24, 1936. He grew up in Los Angeles and the Mojave desert town of Victorville. He studied composition and acoustics with Gerald Strang and Aurelio de la Vega at San Fernando Valley State Coll. (later Calif. State Univ. at Northridge; B.A., 1963) and with Dahl at the Univ. of Southern Calif, in Los Angeles (M.Mus., 1966). From 1970 to 1976 he taught at the Calif. Inst. of the Arts. He received NEA grants in 1974 and 1979. In 1992 he made a tour of Europe with Bill Nelson; another followed, in 1994, with Hector Zazou. Budd’s compositions from the early 1970s, including his Madrigals of the Rose Angel (1972) for Topless Female Chorus, Harp, Percussion, Celesta, and Lights, challenged the avantgarde with their prettiness and surface decoration. By the early 1980s, he began to use the recording studio as an instrument, producing 7 albums in rapid succession, including two on his own Cantil label, The Serpent (In Quicksilver) (1981), and Abandoned Cities (1984), as well as collaborations with Brian Eno, The Plateaux of Mirror (1980) and The Pearl (1984), and The Cocteau Twins, The Moon And The Melodies (1986). His later Lovely Thunder (1986), co-produced with Michael Hoenig, was his last album before departing for London, where he resided from 1987 to 1990; The White Arcades (1988) is his sole recorded work as an expatriate. He also created two gallery installations, including “Blue Room with Flowers and Gong” for Los Angeles’s Inst. of Contemporary Art, for which his Gypsy Violin (1985) was composed. Upon his return to the U.S., Budd composed the pieces comprising his By the Dawn’s Early Light (1991), a recording which signals both his departure from studioproduced albums and a return to more formal modes of composition: through-composed text settings and predetermined structures. The genesis of this work, scored for Guitar, Pedal Steel Guitar, Viola, Harp, and Voice, is a journal of poems Budd had written which were sparked to life by his discovery in Japan of a book of pastels and “poems” by the Italian artist Sandro Chia, which had a profound effect. Other recordings of the period include The Pavilion of Dreams (1978), Lovely Thunder (1986), Music For 3 Pianos (1992; with Ruben Garcia and Daniel Lentz), She Is A Phantom (1994), Through The Hill (1994; with Andy Partridge), Glyph (1995; with Hector Zazou), Walk Into My Voice: American Beat Poetry (1995; with Lentz), and the critically acclaimed Luxa (1996). Although Budd is best known for his recordings, his career as a composer predates his recorded works by nearly two decades. To this earlier period belong such minimalist scores as Analogies from Rothko for Orch. (1964); September Music (1967); November (1967); Black Flowers, “quiet chamber ritual for 4 performers,” to be staged in semidarkness on the threshold of visibility and audibility (1968); Intermission Piece (1968); One Sound for String Quartet glissando (1968); Mangus Colorado for Amplified Gongs (1969; Buffalo, Feb. 4, 1970); Lovely Thing for Piano, with instructions to the player: “Select a chord—if in doubt call me (in lieu of performance) at 213–662–7819 for spiritual advice” (Memphis, Term., Oct. 23, 1969); Lovely Thing for Strings (1969); California 99 (1969); The Candy-Apple Revision (1970; an unspecified D-flat major chord); and Lirio, a 24-hour marathon for Solo Gong (1971).

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