Robert Ashley

Robert Ashley

Robert Ashley is a contemporary American composer born March 28, 1930 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, best known for his operas and other theatrical works, many of which incorporate electronics and extended techniques. Along with Gordon Mumma, Ashley was also a major pioneer of audio synthesis.

Ashley studied at the University of Michigan with Ross Lee Finney, at the Manhattan School of Music, and was later a musician in the US Army. After moving back to Michigan, Ashley worked at the University of Michigan's Speech Research Laboratories. From 1961 to 1969, he organised the ONCE Festival in Ann Arbor with Roger Reynolds, Gordon Mumma, and other local composers and artists. He was a co-founder of the ONCE Group, as well as a member of the Sonic Arts Union, which also included David Behrman, Alvin Lucier, and Gordon Mumma. In 1969 he became director of the San Francisco Tape Music Center. In the 1970s he directed the Mills College Center for Contemporary Music. His notable students include Maggi Payne.

The majority of Ashley's recordings have been released by Lovely Music [] , which was founded by Performing Artservices [] , the not-for-profit management organization which represents Ashley and other artists. Ashley's opera "Perfect Lives" was featured in Peter Greenaway's documentary "4 American Composers".


*"In Memoriam... Kit Carson" (1963)
*"That Morning Thing" (1967)
*"Music with Roots in the Aether" (television opera) (1976)
*"Perfect Lives" (an opera for television) (1978-80)
*"Atalanta (Acts of God)" (1982-91)
*"Now Eleanor's Idea" tetralogy:
**"Improvement (Don Leaves Linda)" (1985)
**"eL/Aficionado" (1987)
**"Now Eleanor's Idea" (1993)
**"Foreign Experiences" (1994)
*"Balseros" (1997)
*"Your Money My Life Goodbye" (1998)
*"Dust" (1998)
*"Celestial excursions" (2003)
*"Concrete" (2006)

The operas of "Perfect Lives", "Atalanta", and "Now Eleanor's Idea" comprise a massive trilogy of sorts that maintains a pulse of 72 beats per minute throughout. In 1976, his "Music with Roots in the Aether" was released, a video collection of interviews with seven American contemporary composers (David Behrman, Philip Glass, Alvin Lucier,
Gordon Mumma, Pauline Oliveros, Terry Riley and Robert Ashley)

Ashley has written many other pieces for combinations of instruments, voices, and electronics. A complete list can be found at [ his official website] .


*1976 - "Music With Roots in the Aether: Opera for Television". Tape 7: Robert Ashley. Produced and directed by Robert Ashley. New York, New York: Lovely Music.
*1983 - "Perfect Lives (an opera for television)". Released on DVD by Lovely Music, 2005.

External links

* [ Robert Ashley homepage]
* [ UBUWEB: Music with Roots in the Aether]
* [ Lovely Music Artist: Robert Ashley]
* [ Robert Ashley Interview with Theresa Stern] Nov. 1997
* [ The University of Akron Bierce Library Composer Profile: Robert Ashley]
* [ Robert Ashley in conversation with Thomas Moore]
* [ NewMusicBox: A Conversation with Robert Ashley] by Frank J. Oteri, March 13, 2001
* [ Robert Ashley in conversation with] André Éric Létourneau - site of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (In French)]


* [ Interview with Robert Ashley (4 December 1979)]
* [ UbuWeb: Robert Ashley] featuring "Interiors with Flash", and "In Sara Mencken, Christ and Beethoveen there were men and women" (1972)
* [ Robert Ashley's When Famous Last Words Fail You Excerpt]
* [ Art of the States: Robert Ashley] "Untitled Mixes" (1965)

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