Death of a pathbreaking American composer

Robert Ashley, who has died aged 83, was a pioneer of mixed-media operas. He worked with the likes of Alvin Lucier, Gordon Mumma, and David Behrman. His final opera, CRASH, is due to premiere at the Whitney in New York later this year, provided funds can be raised.

Reared in Michigan, transplanted to San Francisco, his music was rooted in the American 20th century experience, a blend of subtle beauty and surprising visuals.


robert ashley


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  • A great American original, reinventing opera for his own ends. Like Nancarrow, his focus was narrow, but his aim was true. His legacy will endure.

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