An influential American composer, pianist and recording artist whose career has spanned four decades. He was a noted minimalist composer during the 1960's and went on to become one of the primary instigators of the ambient music genre. He has collaborated with dozens of musicians and composers, including Brian Eno, Cocteau Twins, Andy Partridge and Hector Zazou.
Budd was born in Los Angeles on the 24th of May 1936. He was raised in the small town of Victorville, situated in the Mojave Desert. One wonders whether the sparseness and wide open spaces of his upbringing have a parallel with the huge soundscapes of his later work.
He had an early love of jazz and learned to play the drums in an effort to develop this love into a career. At the age of 21 he enrolled into a music theory course at a Los Angeles community college, furthering his studies with a graduate degree in musical composition from the University of Southern California in 1966. One of his earliest works of note was entitled Unspecified D Flat Major Chord and Lirio, a 24 hour endurance test for unaccompanied gong. Despite this, Budd found work teaching at the California Institute of the Arts in 1970 and it was during this time that he composed a piece that was to change the direction of his career. Madrigals of the Rose Angel (1972), was a work for the harp, electric piano, celeste, percussion and a chorus of topless female singers! Budd, unwilling or unable to find someone to play the piano for a university festival, decided to learn the instrument himself and it has become the one defining voice in all his work since.
Madrigals of the Rose Angel came to the attention of Brian Eno, who made a life changing offer to Budd; record it, along with new material, for release under Eno's EG label. The Pavilion of Dreams was the result and the pair went on to record two of the most defining albums of the ambient genre together.
Harold Budd's recorded works include (among others):
- The Pavilion of Dreams, 1978
- Ambient 2:The Plateaux of Mirror, 1980 with Brian Eno
- The Serpent (In Quicksilver)/Abandoned Cities, 1984
- The Pearl, 1984 with Brian Eno
- Lovely Thunder, 1986
- The Moon and the Melodies, 1986 with The Cocteau Twins
- The White Arcades, 1988
- By the Dawn's Early Light, 1991
- Music for Three Pianos, 1992 with Ruben Garcia and Daniel Lentz
- Through the Hill, 1994 with Andy Partridge of XTC
- She is a Phantom, 1994 with Zeitgiest
- Glyph, 1995 with Hector Zazou
- Luxa, 1996
- Walk into my Voice : American Beat Poetry, 1998 with Daniel Lentz and Jessica Karraker
- The Oak of the Golden Dreams, 1999 with Richard Maxfield
- The Room, 2000
Editor's note: Harold Budd died on December 8, 2020, from complications of COVID-19. He was 84.