Morton Feldman (1926-1987) was an influential American composer whose works were inspired by the thriving downtown New York City fine-art scene of the 1950s and 1960s. He was influenced by abstract expressionists like Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko and often referenced visual art through his alternative notation systems. His music is marked by his great love for the material qualities of instruments, the freedom of trusting his instincts and his aesthetic distance from mainstream compositional values.
He first met John Cage at a concert of Webern's works and went on to live in the same building as Cage, becoming his student. Feldman's 1950s and 1960s works were indeterminate or had improvisational elements and generally displayed reverence, austerity and quietude while developing startling harmonic invention and timbrale juxtaposition. In the 1970s, Feldman embraced the minimalist credo of repetition and began standardly notating music once again and directing such elements as pitch volume. In his later years, his works were extremely long, often over an hour, so listeners could experience the development of patterns and musical gestures from "inside" the music.