Moondog - muscician's musician RADIO PROGRAMME
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The Musician's Musician Soundclash
Von Jens Strüver und Robert Ohm
Moondog, mit bürgerlichem Namen Louis Thomas Hardin, geboren 1916, erblindet 1932, gestorben 1999, war ein musikalischer Außenseiter zwischen den Stühlen der Populärmusik und der Klassischen Avantgarde.
Die Entwicklung seiner Musik von den 1950er-Jahren bis in die 1990er-Jahre hinein bildete meist einen Kontrast zu den musikalischen Strömungen seiner Zeit. Und dennoch war und ist Moondog ein "Musician's Musician", einer, dem gerade die Musiker mit großer Hingabe zuhörten. Sein Werk reißt dabei die Grenze zwischen U- und E-Musik ein. Die erste Generation von Minimal-Music-Komponisten wie Steve Reich und Philip Glass bezeichneten ihn später als "Leader of the Pack" oder "Founder of Minimalism". Und obwohl Moondog sich vielmehr in der Tradition des Kontrapunkt verortet wissen wollte, strahlt der Einfluss seines Werkes auf alle minimalistischen Strömungen tanzbarer elektronischer Musik seit den frühen 1990er-Jahren aus.
Moondog was the pseudonym of Louis Thomas Hardin (May 26, 1916 . September 8, 1999), a blind American composer, musician, cosmologist, poet, and inventor of several musical instruments. Although these achievements would have been considered extraordinary for any blind person, Moondog further removed himself from society through his decision to make his home on the streets of New York for approximately twenty of the thirty years he spent in the city. The public began to appreciate the extent of Moondog's talents only in the final decades of Moondog's life, primarily because of his stubborn refusal to wear anything other than his own home-made clothes
all based on his own interpretation of the Norse god Thor. He was known for much of his life as "The Viking of 6th Avenue".
Born in to an Episcopalian family in Marysville, Kansas, the young Louis Hardin started playing a set of drums that he made himself from a cardboard box at the age of five. His family relocated to Wyoming, opening a trading post at Fort Bridger and Hardin attended school in a couple of small towns. At one point Hardin's father took him to an Arapaho Sun Dance where he sat on the lap of Chief Yellow Calf and played a tomtom made from buffalo skin. It was this exposure to Native American instruments and rhythms that would shape his music.
Hardin played drums in Hurley High School before losing his sight in a farm accident at the age of 16. After learning the principles of music in several schools for blind young men across middle America, he taught himself the skills of ear training and composition. Principally self-taught, he studied with Burnet Tuthill and at the Iowa School for the Blind.
Hardin moved to Batesville, Arkansas. where he lived until 1942 when he got a scholarship to study in Memphis, though the majority of his musical training was self-taught by ear with some theory derived from books in braille. Hardin moved to New York in 1943 where he met noted classical music luminaries such as Leonard Bernstein and Toscanini, as well as legendary jazz performer-composers like Charlie Parker and Benny Goodman whose upbeat tempos and often humorous compositions would influence Hardin's work.
From the late 1940s until 1974, Moondog lived as a street musician and poet in New York City, busking mostly on 53rd Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan. In addition to his music and poetry, he was also known for the distinctive Viking garb that he wore, which included a horned helmet. He partially supported himself by selling copies of his poetry and his musical philosophy. Because of his street post's proximity to the famed 52nd Street nightclub strip, he was well-known to many jazz musicians and fans.
In 1947 Hardin adopted the pen name "Moondog" in honor of a dog "who used to howl at the moon more than any dog I knew of." In 1949 he traveled to a Blackfoot Sun Dance in Idaho where he performed on percussion and flute, returning to the Native American music he first came in contact with as a child. It was this Native music, along with contemporary jazz and classical, mixed with the ambient sounds from his environment (city traffic, ocean waves, babies crying, etc.) that created the foundation of Moondog's music.
In 1954, he won a case in the New York State Supreme Court against disc jockey Alan Freed, who had branded his radio show, "The Moondog Rock and Roll Matinee", around the name "Moondog", using "Moondog's Symphony" (the first record that Moondog ever cut) as his "calling card". Being a homeless person, he believed he would not have won the case had it not been for the help of musicians such as Benny Goodman and Arturo Toscanini, who testified that he was a serious composer. Freed had to apologize and stop using the nickname "Moondog" on air, on the basis that Hardin was known by the name long before Freed began using it.
Moondog had an idealised view of Germany ("The Holy Land with the Holy River" . the Rhine), where he settled in 1974.
Eventually, a young German studentnamed Ilona Goebel helped Moondog set up the primary holding company for his artistic endeavors and hosted him, first in Oer-Erkenschwick, and later on in Münster in Westphalia, Germany, where he spent the remainder of his life.
Moondog visited America briefly in 1989, for a tribute in which Philip Glass asked him to conduct the Brooklyn Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, at the New Music America Festival in Brooklyn, stimulating a renewed interest in his music.
He recorded many albums, and toured both in the U.S. and in Europe . France, Germany and Sweden.
Moondog's music took its inspiration from street sounds, such as the subway or a foghorn. It tended to be relatively simple but characterized by what he called "snaketime" and described as "a slithery rhythm, in times that are not ordinary [...] I'm not gonna die in 4/4 time"
Moondog's work was early championed by Artur Rodzi.ski, the conductor of New York Philharmonic in the 1940s. He released a number of 78s, 45s and EPs of his music in the 1950s, as well as several LPs on a number of notable jazz labels, including an unusual record of stories for children with actress Julie Andrews in 1957. For ten years no new recordings were heard from Moondog until producer James William Guercio took him into the studio to record an album for Columbia Records in 1969. The track "Stamping Ground", with its odd preamble of Moondog saying one of his epigrams,
as featured on the sampler double album Fill Your Head with Rock (CBS, 1970). The melody from the track "Bird's Lament (In memory of Charlie Parker)" was later sampled by Mr. Scruff as the basis for his song "Get a Move On", which was then used in commercials for the Lincoln Navigator SUV.
A second album produced with Guercio featured one of Moondog's daughters as a vocalist and contained song compositions in canons and rounds. The album did not make as large an impression in popular music as the first had. The two CBS albums were re-released as a single CD in 1989.
In a search for new sounds, Moondog also invented several musical instruments, including a small triangular-shaped harp known as the "Oo", another which he named the "Ooo-ya-tsu", and (perhaps his most well-known) the "Trimba", a triangular percussion instrument that the composer invented in the late 40s. The original Trimba is still played today by Moondog's friend Stefan Lakatos, a Swedish percussionist, to whom Moondog also explained the methods for building such an instrume
Moondog inspired other musicians . several tracks by other artists were dedicated to him. These include "Moondog" by Pentangle (from the 1968 album 'Sweet Child'), "Moondog" by DJ Scotch Egg (from the album Scotchhausen) and "Spear for Moondog" (parts I and II) by jazz/funk organist Jimmy McGriff (from his 1968 Electric Funk album). The Beatles were called Johnny and the Moondogs before they chose their more famous name. The English pop group Prefab Sprout included the song "Moondog" on their album Jordan: The Comeback released in 1990 as a tribute to Hardin. Big Brother and the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin covered the song "All Is Loneliness" on their 1967 album Big Brother and the Holding Company. Ninja Tune recording artist Mr. Scruff released a single, "Get a Move On", which was structured around samples from "Bird's Lament". The song appeared on his album Keep It Unreal. A photo of Moondog can be seen on the wall of The Residents The Bunny Boy's Secret Room, along with numerous other composers The Residents seem to like. New York band The Insect Trust plays a cover of Moondog's song "Be a Hobo" on their album Hoboken Saturday Night. Moondog is portrayed briefly in a street scene in the beginning of Todd Haynes' 2007 film I'm Not There. The disc-jockey Alan Freed used Hardin's song "Moondog Symphony" as the signature tune of his show "The Moondog House" and billed himself as "The King of the Moondoggers". He did so without Hardin's permission though and had to stop using both after Hardin sued him
* "Snaketimes Rhythm" (1949-1950), SMC
* "Moondog's Symphony" (1949-1950), SMC
* "Organ Rounds" (1949-1950), SMC
* "Oboe Rounds" (1949-1950), SMC
* "Surf Session" (c. 1953), SMC
* "Caribea Sextet"/"Oo Debut" (1956), Moondog Records
* "Stamping Ground Theme" (from the Holland Pop Festival) (1970), CBS
* Improvisations at a Jazz Concert (1953), Brunswick
* Moondog on the Streets of New York (1953), Decca/Mars
* Pastoral Suite / Surf Session (1953), SMC
* Moondog & His Honking Geese Playing Moondog's Music (1955), Moondog Records
* Moondog and His Friends (1953), Epic
* Moondog (1956), Prestige
* More Moondog (1956), Prestige
* The Story of Moondog (1957), Prestige
* Tell It Again (with Julie Andrews) (1957), Angel/Capital
* Moondog (not the same as the 1956 LP) (1969), Columbia
* Moondog 2 (1971), Columbia
* Moondog in Europe (1977), Kopf
* H'art Songs (1978), Kopf
* Moondog: Instrumental Music by Louis Hardin (1978), Musical Heritage Society
* A New Sound of an Old Instrument (1979), Kopf
* Facets (1981), Managarm
* Bracelli (1986), Kakaphone
* Elpmas (1992), Kopf
* Sax Pax for a Sax with the London Saxophonic (1994), Kopf/Atlantic
* Big Band (1995), Trimba
* To a Grain of Rice (1996), Paradise
* Bracelli und Moondog (2005 Laska Records
* More Moondog/The Story of Moondog (1991), Original Jazz Classics
* Moondog/Moondog 2 (2001), Beat Goes On
* The German Years 1977.1999 (2005), ROOF Music
* Un hommage à Moondog tribute album (2005), trAce label
* The Viking Of 6th Avenue (2005) Honest Jons
* Rare Material (2006), ROOF Music
Various artist compilations
* New York 19 (edited by Tony Schwarz) (1954), Folkways
* Music in the Streets (edited by Tony Schwarz) (1954), Folkways
* Rosey 4 Blocks (arrangement by Andy Forsythe (1958), Rosey
* Fill Your Head With Rock (1970), CBS
* The Big Lebowski motion picture soundtrack (1998), Mercury
* Fsuk vol. 3: The Future Sound of the United Kingdom (1998), Fsuk
* Miniatures 2 (2000), Cherry Red
* DJ Kicks (2006), Henrik Schwarz K7 Records
* Pineapple Express[Motion Picture Sound Track] (2008), Track 9. Birds Lament, Moondog & The London Saxophonic.
Moondog's music as performed by other musicians
* Moondog and Suncat Suite by British Jazz musician Kenny Graham, featuring one side of interpretations of the work of Moondog (1957)
* "All Is Loneliness" by Big Brother and the Holding Company, featuring Janis Joplin (1967)
* Canons on the Keys by Paul Jordan (1978), unreleased
* "Theme and Variations" performed by John Fahey on the album Rain Forests, Oceans, and Other Themes (1985)
* Lovechild Plays Moondog 7" on Forced Exposure (1990)
* "All is Loneliness" by Motorpsycho (Album: Demon Box - 1993)
* Alphorn of Plenty by Hans Kennel (1995), Hat Art
* "Synchrony Nr. 2" by Kronos Quartet (1997)
* Trees Against the Sky compilation album (1998), SHI-RA-Nui 360°
* "Get a Move On" (remix of "Bird's Lament (In Memory of Charlie Parker") by Mr. Scruff on Keep It Unreal (1999)
* "All Is Loneliness" by Antony and the Johnsons, live (2005)
* "Sidewalk Dances" - Joanna MacGregor & Britten Sinfonia (2005) Sound Circus SC010
* "Moondog Sharp Harp" by Xenia Narati (2006), Ars Musici
* "Paris" by Jens Lekman, live (2007)
Scotto, Robert. Moondog, The Viking of 6th Avenue: The Authorized Biography. Process Music edition (22 November 2007) ISBN 9780976082286 (preface by Philip Glass)
American composer and musician, called a visionary by his peers. Born Louis Thomas Hardin in Marysville, Kansas, he was blinded by a blasting cap at age 16, an event which dramatically changed the course of his life. While studying at the Iowa school of the blind he became interested in music and eventually decided to devote his life to it. He traveled for some years, hitch-hiking across the country several times, before settling in New York City in 1943. For the next 30 years he lived there as a street person, and became known as "the Viking of 6th Avenue". He legally changed his name to "Moondog" in 1947, and used that name exclusively for the rest of his life. He was involved with many famous people of the day, among them Artur Rodinski, Arturo Toscanini, Leonard Bernstein, Marlon Brando, Charlie Parker, and Bob Dylan. During this "New York period" he had a number of performances and recordings of his work: he recorded with Julie Andrews; appeared on stage with such personalities as Alan Ginsberg, Lenny Bruce, and Tiny Tim; and he recorded solo and chamber music albums for Columbia. Despite this exposure, he didn't reach the point of self-supporting musical success until his move to Germany in 1974, where he lived most of the rest of his life. In Germany he wrote a tremendous volume of music and made numerous recordings; a great deal of his music still needs to be transcribed from the Braille. His career was thriving in 1999, when he died of complications from diabetes. Musicians around the world (Paul Jordan; Stefan Lakatos; Xenia Narati; et al) continue to perform and promote his music, and an authorized biography (by Peter Scotto) was released in 2007.
Louis (Moondog) Hardin, 83, Musician, Dies
By GLENN COLLINS
The gaunt, blind musician known as Moondog, who was celebrated among New Yorkers for two decades as a mysterious and extravagantly garbed street performer but who went on to win acclaim in Europe as an avant-garde composer, conducting orchestras before royalty, died Wednesday in a hospital in Munster, Germany. He was 83.
The cause was heart failure, said a friend, Ilona Sommer.
Day in and day out, the man who was originally named Louis T. Hardin was as taciturn and unchanging a landmark of the midtown Manhattan streetscape as the George M. Cohan statue in Duffy Square. From the late 1940s until the early 1970s, Hardin stood at attention like a sentinel on Avenue of the Americas around 54th Street.
No matter the weather, he invariably dressed in a homemade robe, sandals, a flowing cape and a horned Viking helmet, the tangible expression of what he referred to as his "Nordic philosophy." At his side he clutched a long spear of his own manufacture.
Most of the passers-by who dismissed him as "the Viking of Sixth Avenue," offering him contributions and buying copies of his music and poetry, were unaware that he had recorded his music on the CBS, Prestige, Epic, Angel and Mars labels. Hardin's jazz-accented compositions, generally scored for small wind and percussion ensembles, often achieved a flowing, tonal symphonic style.
One of his songs, "All Is Loneliness," became a hit when recorded by Janis Joplin. He wrote music for radio and television commercials, and one of his compositions was used on the soundtrack for the 1972 movie "Drive, He Said," with Jack Nicholson.
Along the way, Hardin wrote Bohemian broadsides against government regimentation, the world monetary system and organized religion. He was celebrated by Beat Generation poets and late-1960s flower children. His passionate unconventionality drew praise from some critics and led to interviews on many television shows, including both "Today" and "The Tonight Show."
Although many New Yorkers assumed that he had died after he vanished from his customary post in 1974, Hardin had actually been invited to perform his music in West Germany and decided to stay.
"He led an extraordinary life for a blind man who came to New York with no contacts and a month's rent, and who lived on the streets of New York for 30 years," said Dr. Robert Scotto, a professor of English at Baruch College of the City University of New York. "Without question, he was the most famous street person of his time, a hero to a generation of hippies and flower children." Scotto has just completed a biography of Hardin, "Moondog: The Viking of Sixth Avenue," which has not been published.
After his performances in Hamburg, Hardin again earned a living as a street performer, this time in Europe. He soon met Mrs. Sommer, whose father insisted on taking him into their home and supported Hardin in his later years. He composed in Braille, and she transcribed his music and acted as his publisher and business manager. According to Scotto, they had an intimate working relationship, but neither of them ever described it as more than that.
In his later years, Hardin produced at least five albums in Europe, including a "sound saga" titled "The Creation," and regularly performed his compositions with chamber and symphony orchestras before glittering audiences in Paris, Stockholm and cities in Germany.
Harding adopted the Moondog name in 1947, identifying himself, he said, with a former pet who howled at the moon.
He was born in Maryville, Kan., on May 26, 1916, the son of an Episcopal minister. He was blinded at the age of 16 when a dynamite blasting cap exploded in his hands. A year later, after studying stringed instruments, organ and harmony at the Iowa School for the Blind, he became obsessed with becoming a composer.
When he arrived in Manhattan in 1943, he established an outpost outside the stage entrance of Carnegie Hall and met some of the New York Philharmonic's musicians. They arranged a meeting with their conductor, Artur Rodzinski. Rodzinski was taken with Hardin and not only extended an open invitation to attend the orchestra's rehearsals, but also promised he would conduct an orchestral work if Hardin ever wrote one.
But because he was blind, he needed help in writing out the score. Hardin could not afford such assistance, so he made his living as a street musician, training himself to be a master of percussion improvisation. He was unable to compose a symphony until after Rodzinski left the Philharmonic in 1947.
In the mid-1950s, one of his 78-rpm recordings, "Moondog Symphony," was regularly played by Alan Freed, the pioneering rock-and-roll disk jockey. But it wasn't until the 1960s that Hardin had regular access to an orchestra and was able to make his first longer album for CBS, "Moondog."
In 1989, Hardin, acclaimed in Europe, was invited back to the United States to conduct the Brooklyn Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra.
Allan Kozinn, a critic for The New York Times, described Hardin's conducting style as unusual, explaining that he was "uncomfortable with being an authority figure, so he sits to the side of the orchestra and provides the beat on a bass drum or tympani."
Scotto said that Hardin told him that he married in 1943 and subsequently divorced. A second marriage, to Sazuko Whiteing, a musician, in the 1950s, ended in divorce in the early 1960s, Scotto said.
Scotto and Mrs. Sommer said they thought Hardin was survived by a younger brother, Creighton Hardin, of Kansas City; a daughter, June Hardin, and another daughter, whose name and whereabouts they did not know.
In the end, Hardin finally yielded to Mrs. Sommer's coaxing and gave up his Viking outfits. He had refused to alter his dress code even when, as an aspiring composer, it provoked his eviction from the Philharmonic rehearsals.
"But I still love horned helmets and swords and spears," he said in a 1989 interview. "I like to feel that I'm loyal to my past. I wouldn't want to be on the street anymore. But you know, that led to a lot of things."
when he was permanently blinded when he mistakenly toyed with a blasting cap
lost his sight while tinkering with a blasting cap
at 16, a blasting cap he was examining exploded in his face and blinded him
In 1929, a dynamite blasting cap exploded in his face