American composer Dane Rhudyar was known not only for his music, but for pioneering a humanist approach to astrology, and writing about both topics. Born Daniel Chennevière in Paris, before the turn of the century, he heard Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" when it premiered. He emigrated to the U.S. during the teens (but his early 20s), and continued composing. One of his works, "Paens," was included in a program with works by Ruggles and Copland, organized by Henry Cowell, and in Cowell's first New Music Editions in the late '20s. While he may be best known for the piano piece, "Stars," it was his orchestral work "Soul Fire" which earned him a prize by the LAPO. Despite this, and the influence that his writings on music -- specifically, Dissonant Harmony (1928) and The New Sense of Sound (1930) -- had on many composers, Rudhyar was little known for his music until late in life when composers James Tenney and Peter Garland helped bring him to the attention of the music world. Garland wrote that Rudhyar's "best works occurred in the 1920s and... 1970s!" For at this time, he began composing again, experiencing a revival at the age of 80, mostly writing piano and chamber music. Regardless of his musical ups and downs, Rudhyar remained creatively active throughout his life, taking up painting in New Mexico in the late '30s, writing about music, exploring religion, philosophy, and theosophy (which led to his name change based on a Sanskrit term). He eventually came to form a different conception of astrology that was more spiritual, and wrote many books on this topic, as well as his own biography.
Share this page