"In American music today there's a terrific amount of differentiation, a variety of styles and approaches. And that's the American story: this enormous, broad thing."
Otto Luening (1900-96)
LittD (hon.) 1981
A noted opera conductor, Otto Luening was also a pioneer in the field of electronic music. He was born in Milwaukee and began composing in 1906, moving to Munich with his family in 1912 and later studying at a conservatory and university in Zurich. Luening became an accomplished flautist and played in a local orchestra and opera company there before making his debut as a composer-conductor in 1917. He returned to the United States in 1920 and continued conducting in addition to teaching at various colleges and universities. In the early 1930s he authored an opera of his own, Evangeline. Luening went on to teach at Columbia for many years, also serving the American Academy in Rome as a trustee and, occasionally, as composer-in-residence. He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and received numerous other cultural awards. After retiring from Columbia in 1970, he taught briefly at the Juilliard School, and in 1980 he wrote a comprehensive autobiography, The Odyssey of an American Composer.