An Interview with Vladimir Ussachevsky: By Norma Beecroft

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Vladimir Ussachevsky
b. 1911, Hailar District, China – d. 1990, New York, U.S.A.

Interviewed by Norma Beecroft as part of her ebook, Conversations With Post World War II Pioneers of Electronic Music.
Recorded on audio cassette.
Digital transfer and editing: William Van Ree

Vladimir Ussachevsky and Otto Luening played significant roles in the history and development of electronic music. Their work in the early 50s owed its existence to the tape recorder, which they used to experiment with the transformation of timbres of various musical instruments. Their particular concept became known as 'tape music'.

Born of Russian parents in Manchuria, Ussachevsky arrived in the United States in 1930. He was a student of Bernard Rogers, Howard Hanson and took a course in composition with Otto Luening. His first tape composition was Sonic Contours (1952) in which he manipulated prerecorded piano sounds. In 1953 he began a collaboration with Otto Luening to create one of the earliest works to combine tape with live performance, the Rhapsodic Variations for tape and orchestra (1953-54).

In 1959 a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation enabled Ussachevsky and Luening to expand their studio at Columbia University into the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Studio, which also housed the electronic music svnthesizer Mark II. In the 60s he turned his attention to new sound generating computer systems.

You can read the transcript of the interview, along with interviews of 22 other electroacoustic composers, by purchasing the ebook here.