Wendy Carlos. A biography
This book is the first full-length biography to be written about the American composer and electronic musician Wendy Carlos (b. 1939). With her debut album, Switched-On Bach, Carlos brought the sound of the Moog synthesizer to a generation of listeners. She not only blazed new trails in electronic music for decades but also intersected with many aspects of American culture during the second half of the twentieth century and well into the twenty-first. Her story features an eclectic cast of characters, including Arthur Bell, Leonard Bernstein, Allan Kozinn, the Kronos Quartet, Stanley Kubrick, Robert Moog, Ron Nelson, Stevie Wonder, and “Weird Al” Yankovic. Carlos’s identity as a transgender woman has shaped many aspects of her life, her career, how she relates to the public, and how the public has received her and her music. Cultural factors surrounding the treatment of transgender people affected many decisions that Carlos has made over the decades. She remained in hiding for more than a decade after she transitioned to female because she feared for her personal safety and professional reputation. Once she disclosed her transition publicly, many journalists and fans began to focus almost exclusively on her gender instead of on her music. Eventually she retreated again, giving very few interviews and never speaking about her gender on record. The fact that she is transgender is just one dimension of her story, however. This text presents her life as completely as is currently possible and relates her life to many dimensions of American culture.