Betty Freeman

Betty Freeman

Betty Freeman (b. Chicago, Illinois, 1921) is an American philanthropist and photographer. She is best known as an arts patron, and is regarded as the most significant American sponsor of contemporary classical music of the second half of the 20th century. []

As of 2003, Freeman had made (since 1961) 432 grants and commissions to 81 composers, often early in their careers. [] [] The composers she has assisted include Lou Harrison, John Cage, La Monte Young, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, John Adams, Pierre Boulez, Harrison Birtwistle, Virgil Thomson, Helmut Lachenmann, and Kaija Saariaho. John Cage dedicated his "Freeman Etudes" to her, [] , Lou Harrison dedicated his "Serenade for Betty Freeman and Franco Assetto" to Freeman and her husband, Steve Reich dedicated "Variations for Winds, Strings, and Keyboards" (1979) and "Vermont Counterpoint" (1982) to her, and John Adams's opera "Nixon in China" (1985-87) was dedicated to her. The American gamelan Si Betty, built by Harrison and William Colvig, was named for Freeman. Bequeathed by Harrison to long-time collaborator and composer Jody Diamond, it has been housed at Harvard University in since 2007. []

In 1972 Freeman produced a documentary film about the composer and instrument builder Harry Partch, entitled "The Dreamer That Remains".

She has also written books about the American artists Clyfford Still and Sam Francis.

Freeman was born in Chicago and grew up with her parents and two brothers in Brooklyn and New Rochelle, New York. Her father was a chemical engineer and her mother was a mathematics teacher. She is a graduate of Wellesley College (1942), where she studied music and English. Following her graduation she married and had four children, then later divorced and married the Italian sculptor and painter Franco Assetto (1911-1991), with whom she lived half of each year in Turin. She lives in Beverly Hills, California.


*1996 - "Music People & Others: 99 Photographs From the Contemporary Music World". Issued in conjunction with the exhibition "Betty Freeman: Music People & Others," held at the Royal Festival Hall in London from April 12 to June 16, 1996. Salzburg [Germany] ; New York: Festival Press. (Originally published as an exhibition catalog in 1987 by Gabriele Mazzotta (Milan); text by Daniela Palazzoli; text in English and Italian.)


*1995 - "Musical Outsiders: An American Legacy - Harry Partch, Lou Harrison, and Terry Riley". Directed by Michael Blackwood.

External links

* [ Betty Freeman page]
* [ Betty Freeman Papers page]
* [ Betty Freeman Papers page]


* [ Betty Freeman interview]
* [ Betty Freeman interview] from New Music Box

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