Maryanne Amacher

Maryanne Amacher was born in 1938 in Kane, Pennsylvania, USA. She enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania in 1955, where she met many great composers and theorists. Maryanne went on to hold a series of international stipends and fellowships, amongst them the fellowship at University of Illinois’ Experimental Music Studio. Here she met John Cage, who she continued to collaborate with for many years, creating the works Lecture on the Weather (1975) and Close Up (1979) – the sound component for John’s 'marathon text' Empty Words (1974). During the transition to the 80s Maryanne developed Music for Sound-Joined Rooms and Mini Sound Series – project which worked as presentational models for how her subsequent work should be staged. During this time she also worked on the materials for a multi-part drama originally imagined for TV and radio simulcast called Intelligent Life. While never fully realised, this work reveals much of Maryanne’s thinking on music and the advancement of potentialities for future listeners, transcending the social and physiological limitations of music as we know it. In the 90s, Maryanne continued to work internationally, and in the US she was commissioned to compose a large-scale work for the Kronos Quartet, received a Guggenheim Fellowship, performed at Woodstock ’94, and released her album Sound Characters (1999). In the 2000s, she participated in the Whitney Biennial, and joined the faculty of the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College. In 2005 she received Ars Electronica Foundation’s Golden Nica, their highest honour. Amacher died in Kingston, New York after sustaining a head injury and a subsequent stroke during the summer of 2009.

Photo: Peggy Weil