Max Neuhaus

Max Neuhaus (1939 - 2009) was renowned for his interpretation of contemporary music while still in his twenties. In the early 1960s, he toured America as a percussion soloist first with Boulez, and then with Stockhausen, and gave solo recitals at Carnegie Hall and in European capitals. The world of the percussionist is one focused on sound timbre: Neuhaus travelled with one thousand kilos of percussion instruments to perform his solo repertoire. He extended this palette of sound color by inventing several early electro-acoustic instruments. His solo album recorded for Columbia Masterworks in 1968 stands as one of the first examples of what is now called live electronic music.

Neuhaus went on to pioneer artistic activities outside conventional cultural contexts and began to realize sound works anonymously in public places, developing art forms of his own. Utilizing his sense of sound and people’s reactions to it gained after fourteen years as a musician, he began to make sound works which were neither music nor events and coined the term ’sound installation’ to describe them. In these works without beginning or end, the sounds were placed in space rather than in time. Starting from the premise that our sense of place depends on what we hear, as well as what we see, he utilized a given social and aural context as a foundation to build a new perception of place with sound. With the realization of these non-visual artworks for museums in America and Europe, he became the first to extend sound as a primary medium into the plastic arts.

He had continued his activities in music with his networks or broadcast works: virtual architectures which act as a forums open to anyone for the evolution of new musics. With the first Public Supply in 1966 he combined a radio station with the telephone network and created a two-way public aural space twenty miles in diameter encompassing New York City where any inhabitant could join a live dialogue with sound by making a phone call. Later with Radio Net he formed a nationwide network with 190 radio stations. - Excerpted from

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