Ackerman, William

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Ackerman, William

Ackerman, William, successful American composer, guitarist, and entrepreneur; b. Germany, Nov. 16, 1949. Ackerman was orphaned and subsequently adopted at the age of nine by a Stanford Univ. (Palo Alto, Calif.) professor. He soon began playing guitar, eventually mastering the folk, classical, and rock styles. He studied at Stanford Univ., dropping out just before graduation to become a carpenter; as an avocation, he composed guitar pieces for theater productions. Ackerman eventually invested $300 to make a record, initiating a business that grew in 13 years to become the $3, 000, 000 Windham Hill Records Corp. In 1992 he resigned from his position as CEO of Windham Hill and later sold his remaining interest in the company. He then established a spoken word label, Gang of Seven, and built a state-of-the-art digital recording studio across the front yard of his house in Vt. Ackerman is among the most important and best composers in the “New Age” style, which was created and popularized by his record company, and which generally involves folk and modal elements performed by guitar, piano, or electronics.


Passage (1981); Past Light (1983); Conferring with the Moon (1986); Imaginary Roads (1988); The Opening of Doors (1992); Sound of Wind Driven Rain (1998); In Search of the Turtle’s Navel (1998).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire