Partner Lou Harrison

Queer Places:
University of California, Berkeley, California, Stati Uniti
University of the Pacific, 3601 Pacific Ave, Stockton, CA 95211, Stati Uniti
Harrison House, 6881 Mt Lassen Ave, Joshua Tree, CA 92252, Stati Uniti

William (Bill) Colvig (March 13, 1917 – March 1, 2000) was an electrician, amateur musician and instrument builder who was the partner for 33 years of composer Lou Harrison, whom he met in San Francisco in 1967. Colvig helped construct the American gamelan used in works such as the puppet opera Young Caeser [sic] (1971),[1] La Koro Sutro (1972),[2] and the Suite for Violin and American Gamelan (1974).

Colvig was born in Medford, Ore., in 1917. Although he sometimes described himself as an amateur musician, he studied the piano, trombone, baritone horn and tuba while he was growing up in Weed, Calif., and he won a scholarship to study music at the University of the Pacific in 1934. But he soon decided to study electrical engineering instead, and in 1937 he transferred to the University of California at Berkeley. He continued his studies at Berkeley for two years before joining an expedition of naturalists traveling in the Yukon.

During World War II, he served in the United States Army on radar installations in Alaska. He returned to California after the war and worked as an electrician in San Francisco.

He also became involved at the time in the Sierra Club, and later became a guide and a leader of backpacking expeditions for the organization. Ingolf Dahl maintained an intimate, though never exclusive, relationship for the last fifteen years of his life, since 1955, with Bill Colvig, whom he met on a Sierra Club hiking trip.

Leta E. Miller, the co-author, with Fredric Lieberman, of ''Lou Harrison: Composing a World,'' has written that Colvig and Harrison met after a concert of Harrison's works in 1967 and that they quickly discovered they had common interests in music, acoustics and politics. They had both been early supporters of KPFA Radio, the nonprofit pacifist radio station in Berkeley, Calif., and they were both members of the Society for Individual Rights, a San Francisco group that promoted gay rights. A few weeks after they met, Colvig moved into Harrison's woodland cabin in Aptos.

Photo by Robert Giard, Rights Notice: Copyright Jonathan G. Silin (

Harrison House Retreat

University of California, Berkeley, CA

Harrison had by then become interested in the sound of the Indonesian gamelan orchestra -- an ensemble of pitched percussion instruments -- but had found that importing an authentic gamelan was prohibitively expensive.

Colvig died on March 1 in Capitola, Calif. He was 82 and lived in Aptos, Calif.[1]

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