June 24, 1901: Harry Partch is born at 5861 Occidental St. in Oakland, California, USA, the third of three children born to Virgil Franklin Partch, a postal clerk and Jennie Childers, both former missionaries in China.
June 20, 1919: Harry Partch (17) graduates from high school in Albuquerque, New Mexico, three months after his father’s death.
May 20, 1928: Harry Partch (26) has the manuscript to his Exposition of Monophony notarized in San Francisco. This autumn, he will quit his job and begin following the fruit harvest across the United States. It is his first experience as a hobo.
December 31, 1929: Harry Partch (28) signs on in Philadelphia as a seaman aboard an oil tanker. He will work at this employment for three weeks.
January 22, 1930: After three weeks as a seaman aboard an oil tanker, Harry Partch (28) is discharged from service with “very good” marks.
November 16, 1930: The first review of any work by Harry Partch (29) appears in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. It is a review of his Exposition of Monophony by Selby Noel Mayfield, to whom Partch has shown the manuscript.
February 9, 1932: Four works by Harry Partch (30) for voice and viola are performed for the first time, in San Francisco: Seven of the Seventeen Lyrics of Li Po to words translated by Obata, By the Rivers of Babylon to words of the Psalms, The Lord is My Shepherd to words of the Psalms, and Potion Scene from Romeo and Juliet to words of Shakespeare. Public and press are positive.
September 20, 1932: Harry Partch (31) is arrested, probably for vagrancy, in San Luis Obispo, California. He will spend the night in jail, thus ending about six months of wandering.
June 5, 1934: Harry Partch (32) receives a grant of $1,500 from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
September 22, 1934: Harry Partch (33) sails from the United States for England aboard the SS Gourko.
November 14, 1934: Harry Partch (33) meets William Butler Yeats at the poet’s home in Rathfarnham near Dublin. Partch sings his setting of Yeats’ By the Rivers of Babylon. Yeats is unimpressed by Partch’s voice but enthralled with his music. Partch will spend seven days in Dublin, four of them with Yeats.
June 11, 1935: Harry Partch (33) begins over eight months working in federal camps in California, Washington, and Oregon. Today begins his journal of encounters, thoughts, drawings, and music which will be published as Bitter Music.
February 1, 1936: Harry Partch (34) is hired as a proofreader in San Bernadino, California, leaving seven months as a transient and his journal Bitter Music.
September 17, 1941: In San Francisco, Harry Partch (40) pays 21 cents for the ferry to Berkeley, leaving $3.29 in his pocket, and boards a freight train to Chicago where a friend of a friend has offered him a place to stay. He will keep sketchy records of this trip, conversations, graffiti, place names. These will form the basis of US Highball.
October 1, 1941: Harry Partch (40) arrives in Chicago from San Francisco, having hitchhiked and jumped on trains.
November 3, 1942: Harry Partch (41) gives a lecture-demonstration of his theories in Kilbourn Hall of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. He ends it with a performance of his first hobo composition, Barstow.
January 28, 1943: Harry Partch (41) departs New York City for Ithaca, New York. Intended as a short visit with friends, this will prove to be his most fertile creative period.
November 29, 1943: Harry Partch (42) auditions for the concert committee of the League of Composers in New York, successfully. See 22 April 1944.
April 22, 1944: The first three of the four parts of The Wayward by Harry Partch (42) are performed for the first time, in Carnegie Chamber Music Hall, New York: Eight Hitchhiker Inscriptions from a Highway Railing at Barstow, California for voice and guitar; US Highball: a Musical Account of a Transcontinental Hobo Trip to the composer’s words for chorus, guitar, and chromelodeon; and San Francisco: a Setting of the Cries of Two Newsboys on a Foggy Night in the Twenties for solo voice, viola, chromelodeon, and kithara. Also premiered is Partch’s YD Fantasy for soprano, tin flutes, tin oboe, flexatone, and chromelodeon to his own words. The chromelodeon is played by Henry Brant (30). See 29 November 1943.
June 5, 1944: Harry Partch (42) receives $1,000 from the University of Wisconsin Research Committee.
March 7, 1945: Two Settings from Finnegans Wake for soprano, flageolet, flutes, and kithara by Harry Partch (43) to words of Joyce, is performed for the first time, in Madison, Wisconsin.
May 3, 1945: Dark Brother for baritone, viola, chromelodeon, kithara, and Indian drum by Harry Partch (43) to words of Wolfe, is performed for the first time, in Madison, Wisconsin. Also premiered is Partch’s I’m very happy to be able to tell you about this... for soprano, baritone, kithara, and Indian drum.
July 16, 1945: Harry Partch (44) is appointed by the University of Wisconsin to a research position, and his grant from that school is renewed.
March 17, 1949: The University of Wisconsin Press publishes Genesis of a Music by Harry Partch (47).
May 1, 1950: Harry Partch (48) enters the hospital of the University of California for surgery. A cyst is removed from his adrenal gland. He will be hospitalized for three weeks.
November 28, 1951: Excerpts from King Oedipus for solo voices, chorus, and original instruments by Harry Partch (50) to his own words after Yeats after Sophocles, are performed for the first time, privately, at Mills College, Oakland, California. See 14 March 1952.
March 14, 1952: King Oedipus for solo voices, chorus, and original instruments by Harry Partch (50) to his own words after Yeats after Sophocles, is performed for the first time, at Mills College, Oakland, California. It is a popular and critical triumph. See 28 November 1951.
April 22, 1953: Harry Partch (51) begins lecturing at San Francisco State College on The Human Ear: Its Ignored Capacities.
November 19, 1953: Plectra and Percussion Dances by Harry Partch (52) are performed for the first time, at the International House, Berkeley, California.
February 13, 1954: O Frabjous Day! from Two Settings from Lewis Carroll for voice and original instruments by Harry Partch (52) is performed for the first time, in Mill Valley, California.
October 17, 1954: A letter from Harry Partch (53) appears in the Los Angeles Times in response to that paper’s review of his most recent recording: “Sir: How dare you waste my time with your ‘reviews’? You...are a Euro-technique-inculcated hashbrain, who displaces a depth of water that a pollywog would die in. Go back to your histories, crawl between the pages, and get pressed for another century.”
November 7, 1956: Ulysses Turns Homeward from the Edge of the World (Ulysses at the Edge) for clarinet, cello, and two original instruments by Harry Partch (55) is performed for the first time, at the University of Illinois, Urbana. Also premiered is Blur, an opera by Kenneth Gaburo (30) for actors and tape to his own words.
March 26, 1957: The Bewitched, a dance satire by Harry Partch (55) to his own story, is performed for the first time, in Urbana, Illinois. Partch finds the choreographey utterly useless.
June 1, 1957: Harry Partch (55) arrives at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio where he has been offered a studio for the summer.
March 19, 1958: Windsong, a film with music by Harry Partch (56), is shown for the first time, over the airwaves of WTTW-TV, Chicago.
September 20, 1958: 04:00 Harry Partch (57) arrives by bus in New York, without any prospects or shelter. After walking the streets looking for a cheap room, he phones acquaintances who agree to put him up.
April 8, 1961: Rotate the Body in All Its Planes by Harry Partch (59) is performed for the first time, at the National Collegiate Gymnastics Championships at the University of Illinois in Ubana.
April 11, 1961: Revelation in the Courthouse Park for solo voices, speakers, chorus, dancers, and a large ensemble by Harry Partch (59) after Euripides, is performed for the first time, at the University of Illinois, Urbana.
June 16, 1961: The University of Illinois appoints Harry Partch (59) as a Research Associate in the Department of Speech and Theatre.
March 9, 1962: Water! Water!, a satirical intermission by Harry Partch (60) to his own words, is performed for the first time, at the University of Illinois, Urbana.
September 27, 1962: Harry Partch (61) travels from San Francisco to Petaluma, California. He inspects a former chick hatchery and finds its 100 sq. meters adequate to hold his equipment. Here he will produce And on the Seventh Day Petals Fell in Petaluma.
July 5, 1963: In today’s issue of Time magazine, an article appears about Harry Partch (62) called “Harry isn’t kidding.” The anonymous article lambastes Partch, his instruments and his music, calling him “a hopeless, penniless outsider.”
December 3, 1963: A hearing takes place before the planning commission of Petaluma, California on whether or not Harry Partch (62) may continue to occupy the firetrap wherein he and his instruments presently reside. Trying to be understanding, the commission grants Partch a temporary use permit which will allow him to connect to the gas line, but only if he rewires the building to current codes.
May 17, 1964: Bulldozers complete the destruction of the Pioneer Hatchery in Petaluma, California where Harry Partch (62) has lived with his instruments. It has been sold and is being demolished to build an apartment complex. During the destruction, Partch and his friends have been recording And on the Seventh Day Petals Fell in Petaluma. The recordings are cut short today.
June 5, 1964: Less than a month after being evicted from Petaluma, Harry Partch (62) arrives in Del Mar, north of San Diego and moves into a house being loaned to him by a friend.
October 12, 1964: Harry Partch (63) drives from San Diego to Pasadena to meet members of the Pasadena Art Museum where he will give a lecture-demonstration next month. Here he meets Betty Freeman who will be his chief source of income for the rest of his life.
April 20, 1965: In Los Angeles, Harry Partch (63) receives word from Betty Freeman that she is willing to support him financially on a permanent basis and assist him in creating a studio.
August 15, 1965: Harry Partch (64) signs a lease for a former laundromat in Venice, California. Here he will create a studio.
May 8, 1966: And on the Seventh Day Petals Fell in Petaluma for a large ensemble of original instruments by Harry Partch (64) is performed for the first time, in Los Angeles.
May 25, 1966: Ralph Shapey (45) wins a composing award from the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Harry Partch (64) receives the Marjorie Peabody Award. Stefan Wolpe (63) and David Diamond (50) are inducted as members of the National Institute of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Pierre Boulez (41) is inducted as an honorary member.
September 15, 1966: With the expiration of his lease on the former laundromat in Venice, California, Harry Partch (65) moves to San Diego.
September 8, 1968: A concert of the music of Harry Partch (67) draws standing-room-only crowds at the Whitney Museum in New York. The lines “twisted outside the museum, down Madison Avenue, and around the block.”
January 9, 1969: Delusion of the Fury: a Ritual of Dream and Delusion for actors, chorus, dancers, large ensemble of original instruments, and small hand instruments by Harry Partch (67) to his own words after traditional words is performed for the first time, at UCLA. Public and press are ecstatic.
June 30, 1970: The Harry Partch (69) Foundation is approved by the Internal Revenue Service as an educational nonprofit organization, making contributions to it tax deductible.
June 18, 1972: Harry Partch (70) signs a contract for a documentary about him which has already been filmed. Partch receives $3,000 and 10% of the profits.
March 25, 1973: The Dreamer that Remains: a Study in Loving, a film with music by Harry Partch (71) is shown for the first time, at the Unicorn Cinema in La Jolla, California. The film is a documentary about Partch.
March 26, 1974: The Percussive Arts Society inducts Harry Partch (72) into the Percussion Hall of Fame.
September 3, 1974: Morning. Harry Partch dies of a heart attack at his home at 4851 Felton St. in San Diego, California, USA aged 73 years, two months, and ten days. He is alone at the time. The body is discovered in the afternoon by Phil Keeney, a young friend of the composer. His mortal remains will be cremated and spread over the waters of the Pacific Ocean.
May 17, 1991: The Wayward Barstow: Eight Hitchhiker Inscriptions from a Highway Railing at Barstow, California by Harry Partch (†16) is given its first fully staged production on Partch’s original instruments, in New York.