The student of Henry Cowell and Arnold Schoenberg worked from 1936 to 1943 as a teacher of various music schools in California, after which he settled down as a music critic and instrument maker in New York City. From 1952 to 1953 he taught at Black Mountain Collage of Buncombe County. Most recently, he lived in Aptos / California with his partner Bill Colvig, who died in 2000.
With his compositions Harrison extended the range of instruments and musical forms by advocating, for example, in his percussion pieces items such as brake cylinders, metal pipes, flower pots and waste bucket. He also wrote works for the instrumentation of gamelan orchestras and used medieval dances, rituals of the Navaho Indians, early California mission music or court music of Korea in his works.
Harrison wrote among other things an opera ( Rapunzel, 1954), a ballet, two symphonies, seven pastorals for chamber orchestra, two string suites, two violin concertos, three piano and harpsichord sonatas six, a fair, a motet and stage music. He dedicated his Piano Concerto Keith Jarrett.
- Prelude and Sarabande for orchestra
- Alleluia for orchestra
- New Ode for solo, chorus, speaking chorus, orchestra, percussion and oriental instruments
- Drums Along the Pacific
- La Koro Sutro (Esperanto for " Heart Sutra " with choir singing in Esperanto )
- Rhymes With Silver
- Solo Keyboards
- Pacifika Rondo