Bad Radio 1: La Monte Young, Part I

Written by on April 17, 2018

Bad Radio is a secret archive of shows devoted to a society of 20th century avant-garde musicians and their influences. The first installment looks at La Monte Young.

New York Magazine’s Vulture website describes La Monte Young as “the most influential living composer.” He was born in Bern, Idaho on October 14, 1935. He learned to play guitar, saxophone and clarinet, as well as tap dance, at an early age. As a youth, he became fascinated by jazz musicians like Le Konitz, Eric Dolphy and John Coltrane. From 1955 to 1956 Young studied with Leonard Stein, a colleague of Arnold Schoenberg. At UCLA, Young studied music theory, composition and ethno-musicology, earning a BA in 1958. Rumor has it that he played saxophone with Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, and Billy Higgins while he was in Los Angeles. From 1958 to 1960, Young studied music at UC Berkeley, where he collaborated with Terry Riley. In the summer of 1959 Young attended Karlheinz Stockhausen’s seminars in Darmstadt, Germany. There he discovered the work of John Cage. In 1960 he composed music for David Tudor, a frequent interpreter of the music of John Cage.


  • Lee Konitz & Gerry Mulligan Quartet “Bernie's Tune” (1957)
  • Eric Dolphy “Hat and Beard” from Out to Lunch (1964)
  • John Coltrane “My Favorite Things” (1961)
  • Ornette Coleman Quartet “Lonely Woman” from The Shape of Jazz to Come (1959), featuring Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, and Billy Higgins
  • Arnold Schoenberg “String Quartet III, Op. 30” (1927) performed by the Arditti String Quartet in 1994
  • Karlheinz Stockhausen “Kontakte – Teil 1” with electronics by Stockhausen, and Gottfried Koenig, percussion by Christoph Caskeel, and piano by David Tudor, from Kontakte (1960)
  • John Cage & Lejaren Hiller “HPSCHD” from John Cage & Lejaren Hiller HPSCHD, with harpsichords played by David Tudor, Neely Bruce, and Antoinette Vischer, (1969)
  • Terry Riley “Concerto for Two Pianos and Five Tape Recorders” performed by Terry Riley and LaMonte Young, with an introduction by Glen Glasw (1965) from Riley: Music for the Gift (cover art by Bruce Conner)



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