Harold Budd, legendary ambient composer, useless on the age of 84
Harold Budd, the avant-garde ambient and minimalist composer, has died. Long-time associate Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins, who released a new album with Budd last week called Another Flower, confirmed the news. No cause of death was disclosed. He was 84 years old.
Harold Budd was born in Los Angeles in 1936. As an adult, he played drums and, after graduating from high school, enrolled at Los Angeles City College, where he took a music theory course in Harmony. Budd spent some time in the Army and played in a band with Albert Ayler before studying with composer Gerald Strang at San Fernando Valley State College. As a student, John Cage gave a speech entitled “Where Do We Go and What Do We Do” to Budd and his fellow students. Budd has often credited Cage and the speech for changing his attitude towards music.
Budd later graduated from the University of Southern California, where he worked with Ingolf Dahl. In 1970, Budd released his first recorded work, The Oak of the Golden Dreams. Eight years later he released his album The Pavilion of Dreams, produced by Brian Eno. Budd continued to work with Eno, collaborating on Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror from the 1980s and The Pearl from 1984. Budd composed and continued to record in the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and 2010s.
Harold Budd is often associated with the “soft pedal” style of piano playing, an instrument he did not play often until his thirties. “I wrote a piece in 1972 called Madrigals of the Rose Angel that was sent east somewhere for public performance. I wasn’t there, but I got the tape and was absolutely horrified how they missed the whole idea, “he recalled in 2005.” I said to myself, ‘This will never happen again. From now on I take full responsibility for every piano play. ‘That was that. “