Larry Austin, a former University of North Texas professor and noted electronic composer, died in his sleep Dec. 30 at the age of 88.
Austin led the department of composition studies at the university and produced more than 80 pieces of music that were played with the New York Philharmonic and in Carnegie Hall. He worked to create electronic music before technology on computers simplified the process.
“Nowadays, when we think electronic music it’s with computers, but this was analog at the time,” said Joseph Klein, chairman of composition studies. “He was known for being a computer music pioneer and was associated with a lot of experimental-music composers.”
He worked at UNT from 1978 until he retired in 1996. During his tenure, he helped create the Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia, which exists today. He retired at 65 so he could continue his work as a composer, creating new work until a few years ago, Klein said.
“Larry’s thing was, ‘I’m teaching, I’ve had a good career and I want to go back to being a composer,’” Klein said. “He went on to have a very fertile career for 20 years after that. I admire that, and he’s one of the few faculty members I’ve seen retire and have an admirable post-retirement career.”
Career highlights include creating the magazine Source: Music of the Avant-Garde and his completed realization of the Universe Symphony, which earned critical praise from The New York Times and was performed at Carnegie Hall.
In the 1960s, he was part of a televised performance by the New York Philharmonic.
In 1996, he was the first American to win the International Electroacoustic Music Competition’s Magistere Award.
Austin is survived by his children Aurora Pucciarello, Elizabeth Sharpe, Thais Austin, L. Don Austin and David Austin; 13 grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.
A rosary will be said at Bill DeBerry Funeral Directors, 2025 W. University Drive, at 6 p.m. Thursday. Family visitation will follow until 8 p.m.
Funeral Mass will be held at St. Mark Catholic Church, 6500 Crawford Road in Argyle, at 10 a.m. Friday, with interment to follow at Roselawn Memorial Park in Denton.