Otto Luening

Otto Luening was a composer, flutist, conductor, teacher, and experimenter, who, along the way, managed to gain a large understanding of his field and wide-spread fame among those whose interests coincided with his.  

Everyone has a family history and one's lineage is going to be of greater or lesser interest to immediate friends and close relatives.  Sometimes, when a person gains a bit of larger fame, that interest in branches of the family tree becomes more telling.  His ancestry is traceable back to Manfried von Lüninck who flourished in 1350.  One of Otto's maternal ancestors was said to be a descendant of Martin Luther's sister.  A couple of later family members came to America, and Otto's father was a musician who trained in Leipzig and sang in performances of the Beethoven Ninth Symphony conducted by Wagner.     

Young Otto, who was born in Milwaukee in 1900, played flute in an orchestra in Zurich under several well-known conductors and composers, including Richard Strauss.  He took private lessons with Ferruccio Busoni and others, and even acted in Jame Joyce's theater group.  

Back in the U.S., he continued his playing and studying, earning a reputation and being rewarded for his efforts.  Among other things, he helped found (with Aaron Copland) the American Composers Alliance, and (with Douglas Moore) the recording label Composers Recordings Incorporated, known as CRI.    

More details are included in the tribute which is reproduced at the end of this interview.  Needless to say, when I encountered recordings of this man, I added him to my list and was able to secure an interview.  

When we arranged to chat on the telephone, he was already more than a month past his 85th birthday.  Even so, he was quick and alert and in very good humor right from the start . . . . .

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Year / Artwork Title Importance Medium
1921 Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello 4.0 stars  CD
für stimmen (...missa Est) Comments:
Mirecourt Trio
1924 Lyric Suite 4.0 stars CD
Erik Larsen - Oboe
Oslo Philharmonic cond. Jose Serebrier
1951 Legend 4.0 stars CD
Per Oien - Flute
Oslo Philharmonic cond. Jose Serebrier
1952 Fantasy in Space 4.0 stars CD
Flute recordings manipulated on magnetic tape