Celebrated Composer Richard Horowitz Dies at 75

Richard Horowitz, the composer and pianist who won a Golden Globe Award for his soundtrack, with Ryuichi Sakamoto, to The Sheltering Sky, died in Marrakesh, Morocco, on Saturday, April 13, according to a post on the Instagram page of his wife, Sussan Deyhim. In its own tribute, the New York label Rvng Intl., which reissued Horowitz’s album Eros in Arabia, heralded the “incredible tapestry of music [Horowitz] was a part of,” adding, “now you are all around us, reborn in the ultimate dimension.”

Horowitz was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1949, and spent much of his young adulthood traveling Europe performing music. In the 1970s, he studied electronic music in Paris and the ney (a traditional flute) in Morocco. He, in turn, released a series of albums based around the ney between the late 1970s and early 1980s

In 1981, Horowitz entered two important partnerships: the first with vocalist, dancer, and composer Sussan Deyhim—his future wife—and the second with Jon Hassell, who swiftly invited Horowitz to join his touring operation and work on records, including Power Spot, that synthesized ancient mysticism and modern music technology. The same year, he released Eros in Arabia, his formal debut album, under the moniker Drahcir Ztiworoh; it has since been heralded as a formative work in the development of American minimalism.

Throughout the decade, Horowitz collaborated with artists including David Byrne and Brian Eno and jazz greats such as Anthony Braxton, before partnering with Sakamoto for the North African–set romance movie The Sheltering Sky in 1990. He spent much of his life in Morocco, and, in 1998, co-founded the Gnawa and World Music Festival in the city of Essaouira, now attended by some half a million people each year. Around the same time, he was working on the score for what would become his best-known soundtrack, to Oliver Stone’s 1999 sports thriller Any Given Sunday.

In addition to his musical legacy, Sussan Deyhim’s post honored Horowitz as “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.”