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.
“Excellently researched, beautifully organized, and entertainingly written. Presents a sensitive, wonderfully collaborative portrait of an ‘exuberant,’ highly productive, and driven woman who dealt with all the turbulence, social change, and musical vicissitudes of her social and musical worlds.”--Ellen Koskoff, author of A Feminist Ethnomusicology: Writings on Music and Gender
“A scholarly contribution of great importance. Fills in some of the gaps of a leading female composer of our time. Von Glahn’s ‘collaboration’ with Libby Larsen is surely a positive factor in ensuring an unprecedented level of detail.”--Kay Kaufman Shelemay, author of Soundscapes: Exploring Music in a Changing World
Publication supported by grants from the Dragan Plamenac Endowment of the American Musicological Society, funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; The Florida State University, Office of Research; The Florida State University, College of Music; and the Henry and Edna Binkele Classical Music Fund.