Max Neuhaus

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Max Neuhaus
Background information
Born(1939-08-09)August 9, 1939
DiedFebruary 3, 2009(2009-02-03) (aged 69)
GenresAvant-garde, experimental
Occupation(s)Public art, sound art, sound installation
Years active1957–2009

Max Neuhaus (August 9, 1939 – February 3, 2009) was an American musician, composer and artist who was a noted interpreter of contemporary and experimental percussion music in the 1960s.[1] He went on to create numerous permanent and short-term sound installations in the four decades that followed.


Neuhaus was born on August 9, 1939, in Beaumont, Texas, and attended high school in Houston. He studied percussion with Paul Price at the Manhattan School of Music, graduating with a master of music degree in 1962. He performed as a percussion soloist on concert tours throughout the United States with Pierre Boulez (1962-1963) and Karlheinz Stockhausen (1963-1964). In 1964 and 1965, he presented solo recitals in Carnegie Hall in New York City and in fifteen major European cities. In 1966, he published on Mass Art Inc. four live realizations of John Cage's Fontana Mix (1958), an indeterminate graphic score originally intended for a tape piece, with or without additional instruments. Entitled Fontana Mix-Feed, Neuhaus' realizations employed controlled feedback generated by placing contact microphones on percussive instruments and hooking the microphones up to loudspeakers positioned directly opposite the instruments.

His work as a percussionist culminated in an album of contemporary solo percussion work, Electronics & Percussion - Five Realizations By Max Neuhaus, which he recorded for Columbia Masterworks in 1968, and was produced by David Behrman.

In 1968, he pursued a career as a contemporary artist by developing sound installations, using electronic or electroacoustic sounds which would emanate from a source within a particular space or location. He coined the term "sound installation" to describe his sound works which were neither music nor events.

Neuhaus' first work as an independent artist was a series of walks called Listen (1966-1976). He invited audiences to walk with him through the streets of New York City, with the word listen stamped on their hand. As the work progressed, Neuhaus stopped leading the walks, instead sending postcards/stickers to audience members, that they can leave in their city.[2]

Neuhaus' first permanent installation was Times Square in New York City.[3] It is situated beneath a grate on a traffic island in Manhattan pedestrians are "enveloped by a deeply resonant and mildly undulating drone, its tone suggestive of low-pitched chimes or church bells."[1] Originally installed from 1977 to 1992, it was restored in 2002 by the Dia Art Foundation.[4]

Other works included penny whistles heard underwater in swimming pools, electronic sounds within an arboretum and the modified sounds of listeners whistling tunes over public radio. Nehaus' permanent sound installations are found in these locations:[5]

Personal life[edit]

Neuhaus was married with Silvia Cecere in 1996. Together they had a daughter named Claudia. Neuhaus died of cancer in his home of Maratea, Italy on February 3, 2009.


  1. ^ a b Weber, Bruce (February 9, 2009). "Max Neuhaus, Who Made Aural Artwork, Dies at 69". New York Times. p. A20. Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  2. ^ "Walks". Max Neuhaus (in Italian). Retrieved July 5, 2023.
  3. ^ Kotz, Liz. "Max Neuhaus: Sound into Space" (PDF). {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ Loock, Ulrich. "Times Square". Online Open. Retrieved July 5, 2023.
  5. ^ "Vectors". Max Neuhaus (in Italian). Retrieved July 5, 2023.

Further reading[edit]

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