“Robert Ashley, a restlessly innovative American composer, died at his home in New York March 3 from complications of cirrhosis of the liver. NPR confirmed the composer’s death through his wife and manager Mimi Johnson,” writes Tom Huizenga on Tuesday (3/4) at NPR’s Deceptive Cadence blog. “Ashley blazed an individual path in opera throughout his career.… He composed his operas not for the stage, but for television.… Among Ashley’s more notable operatic experiments were The Park and The Backyard, episodes from his first TV opera Perfect Lives (1977-80). … Ashley was born March 28, 1930 in Ann Arbor and graduated with a degree in music theory from the University of Michigan. … Beginning in the mid-1960s, Ashley toured with the experimental Sonic Arts Union, which included composers Alvin Lucier and Gordon Mumma. In 1984, the BBC televised Ashley’s complete Perfect Lives in seven half-hour episodes.… Ashley wrote film scores, chamber music of all stripes, works for tape, for solo piano and free-thinking pieces like Night Sport, for ‘improvising voice and various distractions.’ … The world premiere of Ashley’s final opera, Crash, will be performed along with two of the composer’s other works at the 2014 Whitney Biennial in New York April 10-13.”

Posted March 6, 2014