1917-2003

A follower of Canadian composer Colin McPhee, Harrison was outspoken about his political views, such as his pacifism, and the fact that he was gay. He was also politically active and informed, including knowledge of gay history. He wrote many pieces with political texts or titles, writing, for instance, Homage to Pacifica for the opening of the Berkeley Headquarters of the Pacifica Foundation, and accepting commissions from the Portland Gay Men's Chorus (1988 and 1985) and by the Seattle Men's Chorus to arrange his Strict Songs (1987), originally for eight baritones, for "a chorus of 120 male singing enthusiasts. Some of them good; some not so good. But the number is so fabulous." Lawrence Mass describes:

With Lou Harrison...being gay is something affirmative. He's proud to be a gay composer and interested in talking about what that might mean. He doesn't feel threatened that this means he won't be thought of as an American composer who is also great and timeless and universal.  [link]

Lou Harrison seated on a deck, smiling at the camera with a bald head an a fluffy white beard.