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(Image courtesy: Sussan Deyhim)

Hollywood Composer Richard Horowitz has Died, Aged 75

Horowitz was known for his award-winning music made with Ryuichi Sakamoto in the movie “The Sheltering Sky”


The American composer and pianist Richard Horowitz studied under La Monte Young and worked closely with Jon Hassell before pursuing a career in Hollywood soundtracks. Notably, he won a Golden Globe Award alongside Ryuichi Sakamoto for their music to the 1990 film The Sheltering Sky.

Born in 1949 in Buffalo, New York, Horowitz spent much of his early adulthood performing music in Europe. In the 1970s, he studied electronic music in Paris and the ney (a traditional flute) in Morocco; subsequently, he released a series of albums based around the ney into the early 1980s. 

In 1981, Horowitz partnered with vocalist, dancer, and composer Sussan Deyhim (his future wife) and Jon Hassell, who invited him to join his touring operation and work on records, including Power Spot. That same year, he released his debut album Eros in Arabia, (under the moniker Drahcir Ztiworoh), which has since been heralded as a formative work in American minimalism and its development. Among his other collaborating artists were David Byrne, Brian Eno, Anthony Braxton

After basing himself in Morocco, Horowitz co-founded the Gnawa and World Music Festival in Essaouira in 1998, which now sees over 500,000 people visit each year. Around this time, he also worked on his best-known score to Oliver Stone’s 1999 sports thriller Any Given Sunday.

“A musical maverick, father, partner, lover, collaborator, friend, and singular human left us yesterday. For those of you who didn’t know, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2021 and relocated to Morocco to live out the remainder of his life in a country he adored,” wrote his daughter Tamara Melnik on behalf of his family in an Instagram post. “He was lovingly cared for by Sussan Deyhim, his partner in life and music of over 40 years, and was visited regularly by his daughter, Tamara Melnik and his grandchildren, as well as a coterie of nurses who were all kind to him.

“Much can be said about the musical legacy he left — including but not limited to, the co-creation of the Gnawa festival in Essaouira and countless awards — but he was much more than that to so many people,” she continued. “A seeker, a master linguist (most especially fond of a good double entendre), a master pianist and ney player, a humorist, trickster, a loving partner, father, and grandfather, sometimes a critical snob, a traveler and world citizen who believed in our shared humanity. He will be missed beyond measure or time and we ask that he continue to guide us in the melody and tone of the universe.”

Our condolences to Mr. Horowitz’s family, friends, and colleagues. 

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