Robert Ashley was born in 1930 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In his early years, like so many other mid-twentieth-century composers, he was attracted to jazz. At a certain point, in his early twenties, however, he realized that "music was not as abstract as I had imagined. In order to play jazz, one had to be able to speak the language of the people who play jazz. And that meant from the start, almost exclusively, that you had to be black. In other words, the stories that were told by jazz music were stories that I didn't grow up with; they weren't my stories. So I stopped trying to play jazz" (Gagne and Caras 1982). This was followed by a period of intense study of the Western classical repertoire, where he attempted to become a concert pianist. "But," he relates, "at a certain point I realized that neither was I European-and especially not European from the nineteenth century. That ended that".
ANZSRC / FoR Code
1904 PERFORMING ARTS AND CREATIVE WRITING