La Monte Young

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La Monte Thornton Young (born October 14, 1935) is an American composer and musician.

Young is generally recognized as the first minimalist composer.[1][page needed] His works have been included among the most important and radical post-World War II avant-garde, experimental, or drone music. Both his proto-Fluxus and "minimal" compositions question the nature and definition of music and often stress elements of performance art.



Born in Bern, Idaho, his family moved several times in his childhood while his father searched for work before settling in Los Angeles, California. He graduated from John Marshall High School and studied at Los Angeles City College where he came out ahead of Eric Dolphy in a saxophone audition for the school's jazz band[citation needed]. In LA's jazz milieu, he played alongside notable musicians including Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry and Billy Higgins.

He undertook further studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he received a BA in 1958, then at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1958 to 1960. In 1959 he attended the summer courses at Darmstadt under Karlheinz Stockhausen, and in 1960 relocated to New York in order to study electronic music with Richard Maxfield at the New School for Social Research. His compositions during this period were influenced by Anton Webern, Gregorian chant, Indian classical music, Gagaku, and Indonesian gamelan music.

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