Gay Guerrilla

December 2015
18 black and white, 11 line illustrations
284 pages
9x6 in
Eastman Studies in Music
Library eBook
University of Rochester Press
BISAC MUS050000, SOC001000, SOC012000

Gay Guerrilla

Julius Eastman and His Music

Edited by Renée Levine Packer, Mary Jane Leach

eBook for Handhelds
A compelling portrait of composer-performer Julius Eastman's enigmatic and intriguing life and music.
Composer-performer Julius Eastman (1940-90) was an enigma, both comfortable and uncomfortable in the many worlds he inhabited: black, white, gay, straight, classical music, disco, academia, and downtown New York. His music, insistent and straightforward, resists labels and seethes with a tension that resonates with musicians, scholars, and audiences today. Eastman's provocative titles, including Gay Guerrilla, Evil Nigger, Crazy Nigger, and others, assault us with his obsessions.
Eastman tested limits with his political aggressiveness, as reflected in legendary scandals like his June 1975 performance of John Cage's Song Books, which featured homoerotic interjections, and the uproar over his titles at Northwestern University. These episodes are examples of Eastman's persistence in pushing the limits of the acceptable in the highly charged arenas of sexual and civil rights.
In addition to analyses of Eastman's music, the essays in Gay Guerrilla provide background on his remarkable life history and the era's social landscape. The book presents an authentic portrait of a notable American artist that is compelling reading for the general reader as well as scholars interested in twentieth-century American music, American studies, gay rights, and civil rights.

Renée Levine Packer's book This Life of Sounds: Evenings for New Music in Buffalo received an ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for excellence. Mary Jane Leach is a composer and freelance writer, currently writing music and theatre criticism for the Albany Times-Union.

"Julius Eastman's Guerrilla Minimalism" from The New Yorker
"Minimalist Composer Julius Eastman, Dead for 26 Years, Crashes the Canon" from The New York Times

An e-book version of this title is available (9781782046868), to libraries through a number of trusted suppliers. See here for a full list of our partners.

Table of Contents

Foreword by George E. Lewis
Introduction: Julius Eastman and His Music - Renee Levine Packer
Julius Eastman, A Biography - Renee Levine Packer
Unjust Malaise - David Borden
The Julius Eastman Parables - R. Nemo Hill
Julius Eastman and the Conception of "Organic Music" - Kyle Gann
Julius Eastman Singing - John Patrick Thomas
An Accidental Musicologist Passes the Torch - Mary Jane Leach
A Flexible Musical Identity: Julius Eastman in New York City, 1976-90 - Ryan Dohoney
Evil Nigger: A Piece for Multiple Instruments of the Same Type by Julius Eastman (1979), with Performance Instructions by Joseph Kubera - David Borden
A Postminimalist Analysis of Julius Eastman's Crazy Nigger - Andrew Hanson-Dvoracek
"The Piece Does Not Exist without Julius": Still Staying on Stay On It - Matthew Mendez
Connecting the Dots - Mary Jane Leach
Gay Guerrilla: A Minimalist Choralphantasie - Luciano Chessa
Appendix: Julius Eastman Compositions - Mary Jane Leach
Selected Bibliography
List of Contributors


Julius Eastman enjoyed the admiration of peers such as Morton Feldman, Meredith Monk and Pierre Boulez. Here, highly engaging essays by those who knew Eastman well recall him as a person and assess his brilliance. While there are amusing anecdotes about his more madcap moments . . . the overall message is that he was an artist deserving of significant respect. BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE

[Eastman's work] effectively rewrote the history of post-war American New Music, restoring to its narrative a gay black voice creating a liberating, high-energy form of organic minimalism. THE GUARDIAN

It is eminently readable throughout. JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC STUDIES

[The book will be] a starting point for others who want to engage with Julius Eastman as a performer, scholar, or composer. ARSC JOURNAL

A picture of [Eastman]--charismatic performer, magnetic personality and emotional escape artist--that puts his work in a context larger and more representative. BAY AREA REPORTER

A composer of visionary power, a singer with a cavernous bass voice, a collaborator with the diverse likes of Meredith Monk and Pierre Boulez, Eastman had long been a fixture of the New York Music scene....Part of the pleasure of Eastman's rediscovery has been the belated, deserving reinsertion of a black, gay figure into music history. THE NEW YORK TIMES

Outspoken about his own identity as a black queer man...Eastman was ahead of his time. His music is politics by other means, in search of a form, alighting toward a future that could grant him dignity, when he could be something other than an abstraction.THE NEW YORKER

A fascinating new collection of essays exploring the life and work of the enigmatic composer Julius Eastman...who worked fluently in jazz, improvisation and acoustical experiments. An indication of his impact is the very fact that so many people have come together [in this book] to remember him and are actively championing his music. ALBANY TIMES-UNION

The publication of this rigorously researched, lovingly produced, multidimensional study of a singular artist will surely be met with joy by those of us who remember Julius Eastman--the inspired creator, the sly provocateur and martyred saint of the avant-garde. For those who are interested in iconoclasts of whatever stripe, this volume will be a revelation and an invitation to rethink what composition, performance, and life at the precipice of madness can be.--Bill T. Jones, choreographer and dancer

This book has arrived just in time for Black Lives Matter and gets my deepest praise. This important volume of essays brought forth by two brilliant women who have long championed Eastman's music, belongs in every music conservatory library and beyond.--Pauline Oliveros, composer

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