Richard Horowitz (born January 6, 1949 in New York City) is a composer, producer, arranger, and musician (keyboard, ney, and percussion).
He is best known for his work on The Sheltering Sky, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, which was awarded the 1990 Golden Globe and LA Film Critics Music Awards; Any Given Sunday, directed by Oliver Stone, which was awarded the 2000 BMI Music Award; and Majoun an album released on Sony Classical in 1997, with Sussan Deyhim. He performed his score for 1999 Three Seasons, (directed by Toni Bui produced by Harvey Keitel, Jacon Kliot and Joanna Vincente) live at the Sundance Film Festival's 25th Anniversary Benefit in New York in 2006.
Horowitz is known for creating a unique sonic language by fusing together his roots in classical, jazz and electronic music with the intensity of the trance music he first experienced in Morocco at the age of nineteen.
Horowitz grew up in a musical family. His mother, Marian Morgan, sang on her own nationally broadcast radio show, and his father Harold was a violin-playing lawyer. He studied with Irving Shire, father of composer David Shire, before becoming a draft resistor in Paris and Morocco in 1969 during the Vietnam War. Horowitz became known for creating a unique sonic language by fusing together his roots in classical, jazz and electronic music with the intensity of the trance music he first experienced in Morocco at the age of nineteen. He plays keyboards, percussion and various woodwinds, including the ney, an obliquely blown reed flute and one of the oldest human wind instruments. He combines a circular breathing technique he learned from snake charmers with the more melodic, classical system of quartertone modal music known as maquam. Since the late 1960s his compositions have been inspired by the ritual drama of ancient music and by the shadings, motifs and overtones of instruments and voices from the oldest cultures. His compositions morph ancient sources into the full spectrum resonance of surround-sound.
From 1968 to 1979, Horowitz lived in Paris and Morocco where he composed and studied Arabic, French, music and Eastern philosophy. He performed throughout Europe with his various ensembles including dates with Alan Silva˙s Celestial Communications Orchestra in 1971 where he had a chance to perform with Steve Lacey, Anthony Braxton and Robin Kenyatta and Bobby Few.
He wrote and directed a film The Fourth Person Singular and recorded Oblique Sequences/ Solo Ney Improvizations No. 1 at IRCAM (Boulez˙s computer music Lab in Paris) for Shandar Records. In 1974, he met Brion Gysin and Paul Bowles, both of whom became friends and mentors. In 1982, Bowles recommended Horowitz to the American Academy of Arts and Letters for the Goddard Lieberson Composition Award.
In Morocco, from 1972 to 1979, he studied ney with Kassim Naccishabundi and Louis Soret. They formed the band Ibis Mummy with Abdellatif Kartuma and Gnawa master Brahim el Belkani. He took classes at the Andalusian Music Conservatory in Marrakech and also learned a great deal from ethnomusicologist Phillip Schuyler who was in Morocco recording Arabic and Berber Music for UNESCO and assisting on the Music in the World of Islam. Horowitz's daughter Tamara Alexa was born in Marrakech in 1977.
In 1980, he returned to the US. He was invited to work with Jan Mattox and Lauren Rush at CCRMA Stanford's computer music research lab where he became interested in resonant loop programs that allowed him to retune the overtones of any sound and place them in a three dimensional virtual space. While in SF he composed and recorded Out of Thin Air and Memoir with SF Symphony principal violinist Daniel Kobialka. He also recorded Eros in Arabia and Never Tech No Foreign Answer on his label Ethnotech in 1982. He worked with SFX designer Frank Serafine on the disc sound for Tron and on Serafine's reel for Star Trek. Another strong influence from that time was Jaron Lanier whom he met at a Harry Partch concert at Mills College in 1981. They have been working together on and off ever since (Chromataphoria and other duo projects).
He performed and recorded with Jon Hassell from 1982 to 1987, playing mostly Prophet 5. At that point the band played mostly in Europe and Japan and included Michael Brook and J. A. Deane. He played on three of Hassell's albums including Powerspot and Surgeon of the Night Sky which were produced by Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. He also performed on a David Byrne/Eno piece Blue Flame for Twyla Tharp's The Catherine Wheel Video and recorded with Suzanne Vega among others.
His main collaborator has been Sussan Deyhim. They started recording in 1982 at Noise New York after Frank Eaton the owner of the studio heard their individual projects and introduced them. Frank handed them the keys to the studio and suggested they make a record. The release was in 1987 and has become a cult classic. Azax Attra: Desert Equations, was one of the pioneering efforts to create what would later become known as world music, drum and bass and trip-hop. High Performance Magazine described the record as "An electro-ecstatic universe imbued with a sense of ritual and the unknown". The music was originally written for their first performance opera featuring a gigantic 10-foot-long (3.0 m) bass speaker in the shape of a datura flower designed by Jack Weisberg and a three-sided 20-foot-long (6.1 m) revolving pyramid screen hung from the ceiling designed by Frederick Lahey. Two 16mm films were projected of Deyhim's dancing on top of the subway grids (filmed shooting up from the tunnel underneath at 79th street). Azax Attra: Desert Equations was the first in a series of pieces that opened in New York toured internationally. It was followed by The Ghost of Ibn Sabba in 1988, and other works including a ballet X-isle Isle-X for the Hong Kong City Contemporary Dance Company. The piece opened in 1989 Hong Kong, the week of Tiananmen Square and featured Chinese Generals sodomizing Barbie dolls.
Horowitz and Deyhim also performed as a duo and with their band (original members included Steve Shehan, Jamie Hadad, Eric Sanko, Peter Freeman and Hassan Hakmoun). In the US, Europe, Japan, and North Africa, appearing at such venues as Town Hall, BAM, The Kitchen, The Knitting Factory, Central Park SummerStage, La Mama, Merkin Hall, and Carnegie Hall, the Ravinia Festival, New Music America LA, Arts Electronica, among others.
In 1988, the duo was invited to perform with the Grateful Dead at a special event for Joseph Campbell. Mickey Hart had heard Desert Equations and wanted to play pieces off the CD for the event. They also worked with Hart, ghost writing for Max Headroom .
After the success of The Sheltering Sky, Horowitz traveled frequently to Los Angeles to work on film scores in the early 90s but eventually moved to London with Deyhim in 1993 to work on a CD for Sony Classical. The result was Majoun. "Deyhim's molten melismas focused by Horowitz's undulating and resonant instrumentation" (The Wire) Majoun was recorded in New York, London, Paris, Los Angeles, Morocco and Bali. The string section was recorded in Morocco with players from the Moroccan National Radio and Television Orchestra. It featured eerie, hovering violin solos by Abdellah El Miry and the great Indian violinist Chandru. The cd also featured were Doug Wimbish and Jaron Lanier, Byron Wallen, Steve Shehan, Reza Derakshani and Keith Le Blanc. The Majoun band toured mostly in Europe, with selected dates in the US.
One of Horowitz˙s most interesting projects was a commission by the Moroccan Royal Cabinet to produce, direct and perform in Ritmos del Futuro Maroc/Seville (the music for the Moroccan National Day at Seville Expo 1992). Horowitz invited ten "western" musicians, including Jon Hassell, Loy Erlich, Steve Shehan and two hundred tribal musicians from ten different tribes of Morocco.
In 1990, Bill Laswell contacted Horowitz wanting to make a CD in Morocco and asked what music he thought would be interesting to record there. Richard said that since he was a bass player the natural thing to do would be to record the Gnaoua (Gnawa) since their cello range sentir is one of the origins of the bass. They co-produced Night Spirit Masters in Marrakech for Axiom with liner notes by Bowles. Horowitz was also instrumental in the career of Gnawa musician Hassan Hakmoun during his first ten years in New York and he performed and recorded with Hassan on many CDs including Gift of the Gnawa with Don Cherry and Adam Rudolph. He also arranged and produced Hakmoun˙s piece Saade recorded by The Kronos Quartet on Pieces of Africa.
In 1997, he was the founding and artistic director for The Gnaoua Festival in Mogador (Essaouira), Morocco with Neila Tazi And Andre Azoulay. The festival attracts over five hundred thousand people a year and has helped raise the appreciation for Gnaoua both inside and out side Morocco. He first worked with Andre Azoulay in 1992 on a large performance in Mogador (Essaouira) for the European re-release Orson Welles' Othello that was filmed in Mogador in 1948.
Returning to New York from London in the late 90s Horowitz and Deyhim were asked to compose 1998 The Gift of Love for Deepak Chopra. It was a charity project for Mother Teresa and featured an unusual combination of movie stars, poets and activists reading Rumi. Horowitz also worked on many other fund raising projects including the NRDC (National Resources Defense Council directed by Peter Rodger in 2001.
Also in the late 90's Horowitz was asked to produce a group of Finnish Karelian folk music singers known as Värttinä for BMG. He was very interested in the group because they sang in the prose poem meter of an old Finnish dialect called Karelian – one of the languages that inspired Tolkien to write The Lord of the Rings. The album, Vihma, released in 1998, was No. 1 in Japan.
After two and a half years in Hollywood, Horowitz returned to New York again in 2001 to begin a collaboration with Sussan Deyhim, Shirin Neshat and film maker Gausem E♭rahhamian on a multimedia opera. Logic of the Birds was co-produced by Lincoln Center, Art Angel in London, The Kitchen, The Walker Art Museum and, Change in Europe. It was based on Attar˙s 12th century text and starred Deyhim as the female heroine, a mystic bird known as the Simorg – highly unusual for that century. There was a film shot, and projected by three DVDs onto three large screens, with a cast of thirty human "birds" in the film as well as surrounding Deyhim on stage. The music was performed and mixed live in surround by Horowitz.
Meeting Resistance (2007)
David & Layla (2006)
Return to Rajapur (2006)
Inshallah: Diary of an Afghan Woman (2002) (TV)
Amants de Mogador, Les (2002)
The Umbrella (The Points of Contact #1) (2001)
Skeleton Woman (2000)
Life Without Death (2000)
Any Given Sunday (1999)
Three Seasons (1999)
... aka Ba mua (Vietnam)
Drowning on Dry Land (1999)
Ombre du pharaon, L' (1996)
Broken Trust (1995) (TV)
... aka Court of Honor
Lakota Woman: Siege at Wounded Knee (1994) (TV)
Quattro bravi ragazzi (1993)
The Tower (1993) (TV)
Atlantide, L' (1992)
Thune, La (1991)
... aka Money
Horowitz has collaborated with Jaron Lanier on many projects including Virtual Motion Music the duo performed at MIDEM in Cannes in 1999.
Horowitz has performed, produced or collaborated with:
Richard Horowitz's music has been described as:
"An electro-ecstatic universe imbued with a sense of ritual and the unknown"
-High Performance Magazine
"Undulating and resonant instrumentation"