Terry Jennings

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Born: July 19, 1940; Eagle Rock, CA   Died: December 11, 1981; San Pablo, CA  
Modern avant-garde composer Terry Jennings is one of the founders of minimalist keyboard music, whose best known works include "Winter Trees." He was deeply involved in the style and ideas of his main influence, so that when his name and work comes up, discussion of his teacher, La Monte Young, is not far away. Born in 1940 in Eagle Rock, CA, Jennings showed a predilection for music at a young age, and began studying piano before he enrolled in Read more elementary school. He studied the compositions of John Cage before reaching his teens, and arranged music for his junior high school's band. Jennings went on to study music with La Monte Young and Robert Erickson, as well as saxophone with William Green, and was composing by the late '50s. Following in the footsteps of Young's earlier work, Jennings explored what became known as minimalism: prolonged tones and spaces with repetitive patterns (to simplify in lieu of a more thorough definition here). La Monte Young also gave him what could be called his first big break, opening an avant-garde concert series in New York with works by Jennings. His work -- which is not all for piano -- has gone on to be performed (by musicians including Young, Jon Gibson, Cornelius Cardew, and Peter Garland) all over the U.S. and Europe in the decades since. In early-'60s New York, Jennings became part of Young's Dream Syndicate/Theater of Eternal Music, performing and recording with Young, Tony Conrad, Marian Zazeela, John Cale, and Angus MacLise (the latter two went on to the Velvet Underground from here), but eventually relocated back to the West Coast, where he taught Harold Budd, among others. He continued to compose through the '70s, and died in San Pablo, CA, in December 1981. Read less

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