Born in Portland, Oregon in 1917, Lou Harrison's earliest musical training took place in San Francisco during the 1920's where he often heard Chinese Opera. By the mid 1930's Harrison's teacher and mentor Henry Cowell introduced him to John Cage. They formed a life-long friendship and together scoured San Francisco's China town looking for percussion instruments for their music ensemble. By the 1940's Harrison, Cage, Merce Cunningham, and Henry Cowell all relocated to New York. A turbulent decade saw Harrison achieve success as a composer and music critic, under the wing of Virgil Thomson, conductor of the premiere of Charles Ives' Third Symphony, teacher at the legendary Black Mountain College and patient in a psychiatric hospital for nine months.
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