cover of book

Libby Larsen: Composing an American Life
by Denise Von Glahn
University of Illinois Press, 2017
eISBN: 978-0-252-09972-4 | Cloth: 978-0-252-04115-0 | Paper: 978-0-252-08269-6
Library of Congress Classification ML410.L3206V6 2017
Dewey Decimal Classification 780.92

Libby Larsen has composed award-winning music performed around the world. Her works range from chamber pieces and song cycles to operas to large-scale works for orchestra and chorus. At the same time, she has advocated for living composers and new music since cofounding the American Composers Forum in 1973.

Denise Von Glahn’s in-depth examination of Larsen merges traditional biography with a daring scholarly foray: an ethnography of one active artist. Drawing on musical analysis, the composer’s personal archive, and seven years of interviews with Larsen and those in her orbit, Von Glahn illuminates the polyphony of achievements that make up Larsen’s public and private lives. In considering Larsen’s musical impact, Von Glahn delves into how elements of the personal—a 1950s childhood, spiritual seeking, love of nature, and status as an “important woman artist”—inform her work. The result is a portrait of a musical pathfinder who continues to defy expectations and reject labels.

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