Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others.
by Jon Davis, Published 2020-12-09
After serving in the army, he was determined to get an education, and ended up studying music, with his first compositions dating from 1962, and he became a fixture on the Los Angeles avant-garde scene with pieces influenced by John Cage, Morton Feldman, and painter Mark Rothko. By the end of the 60s, however, he became disillusioned by the academic nature of the work and gave up composing for a time, though he continued teaching at the California Institute for the Arts.
He resumed composing in 1972 with a new sound, combining elements of jazz into his music, and came to the attention of Gavin Bryars, who connected him to Brian Eno. He resigned from teaching to devote his time to recording his music, with his first album in the new style being The Pavilion of Dreams, released in 1978. He continued to work with Eno, including two equal-billed albums, The Plateaux of Mirrors (1980) and The Pearl (1984), and began collaborating with other like-minded musicians.
Robin Guthrie of The Cocteau Twins was a frequent collaborator, both with and without bandmates Elizabeth Fraser and Simon Raymonde. Budd retired in 2004, though he did surface on occasional recordings after that time. He died on December 8, 2020 of complications from COVID-19.
Filed under: Obituaries
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