Bruce Brubaker is an American artist, musician, concert pianist, and writer born in Iowa.
Brubaker's work uses and combines Western classical music with postmodern artistic, literary, theatrical, and philosophical ideas. He is associated with the recent revitalization of classical music (sometimes termed "alternative classical"). He has created and performed multidisciplinary projects at the International Piano Festival La Roque d'Anthéron, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study, the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, Columbia University, and at the Juilliard School. He is praised as a performer of music by Philip Glass; The New York Times wrote: "Few pianists approach Philip Glass's music with the level of devotion and insight that Bruce Brubaker brings to it, precisely the reason he gets so much expressivity out of it." Brubaker has published articles about music and semiotics, and performance as research. Brubaker advocates the treatment of written music as "text"—he has sometimes performed and recorded new music without the direct input of the composer. Brubaker has said: "The piano is a tool that can be used in different ways. Classical music can be taken as material for new art." Brubaker has argued that technology is returning music to a pre-composer condition, and equalizing or blurring the roles of listener, performer, and composer. In a conversation with Philip Glass in Princeton, Brubaker referred to "the demise of the composer." Brubaker said: "Now, it's becoming a little less clear who creates a work, who plays the work, and who listens to the work. Those roles used to seem to be so clear – you know, Beethoven wrote it, Brendel played it, and the audience at Carnegie heard it. But I don't think that quite works anymore."
Brubaker was born in Des Moines, Iowa and educated at the Juilliard School where his primary teacher was pianist Jacob Lateiner. At Juilliard, he also studied with Milton Babbitt and Felix Galimir, and with Louis Krasner at Tanglewood. As a concert pianist, he has appeared performing Mozart with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, Haydn's music at the Wigmore Hall, Messiaen's music and Philip Glass's music at New York City's (Le) Poisson Rouge nightclub, Brahms's music at Leipzig's Gewandhaus, and extemporizing simultaneous performances with his former student Francesco Tristano and jazz legend Ran Blake.
He received a fellowship grant from the National Endowment from the Arts, and was named Young Musician of the Year by Musical America. He has performed at Leipzig's Gewandhaus, New York's Avery Fisher Hall, and Antwerp's Queen Elizabeth Hall. Brubaker's blog "PianoMorphosis" appears at ArtsJournal.com.
Brubaker's solo piano recordings survey a range of American music by Glass, John Adams, Alvin Curran, William Duckworth, Nico Muhly, and John Cage. Brubaker has premiered piano music by Cage, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Nico Muhly, and Daron Hagen. He has collaborated with Meredith Monk. In 2012, Brubaker, together with Ursula Oppens, recorded Monk's piano music.
Curator and teacher
For nine years, Brubaker was a faculty member at The Juilliard School where he originated an interdisciplinary performance program in 2001, producing new work with dancers, actors, and musicians. At Juilliard, he gave public presentations with Philip Glass, Meredith Monk, and Milton Babbitt. In 2000, he produced "Piano Century," an eleven-concert retrospective of 20th-century piano music. Since 2004, Brubaker is a faculty member at Boston's New England Conservatory where he has curated several projects in collaboration with the Boston Symphony and Harvard University.
- Brahms, Wagner, Steuermann, music for piano by Brahms, Wagner, and Edward Steuermann, Vital Music, 1994
- glass cage, music for piano by Philip Glass and John Cage, Arabesque, 2000
- Inner Cities, music for piano by John Adams and Alvin Curran, Arabesque, 2004
- Hope Street Tunnel Blues, music for piano by Philip Glass and Alvin Curran, Arabesque, 2007
- Time Curve, music for piano by Glass and William Duckworth, Arabesque, 2009
- Drones & Piano EP, music for piano and electronics by Nico Muhly, Bedroom Community, 2012
- Drones & Viola EP, with Nadia Sirota, viola, music for viola and piano by Nico Muhly, Bedroom Community, 2012
- Drones CD, with Nadia Sirota, viola, Pekka Kuusisto, violin, Nico Muhly, piano, Bedroom Community, 2012
- Piano Songs, music for solo piano and 2 pianos by Meredith Monk, ECM, 2014
- Glass Piano, music for piano by Philip Glass, including arrangements by Brubaker, InFiné (Warp Records), 2015
- Glass Piano: Versions, remixes by Plaid, Francesco Tristano, Akufen, John Beltran, Biblo, and Julian Earle, InFiné (Warp Records), 2015
- Da Costa, Damian, "The Post-postmodern Pianist", The New York Observer, May 5, 2009
- Dyer, Richard, "New England Conservatory pianist makes a minimalist effort", Boston Globe, October 3, 2004
- Rinaldi, Ray Mark, "Alt-classical" music: Pianist Bruce Brubaker performs Nico Muhly's 'Drones & Piano' at DU's Newman Center", The Denver Post, January 18, 2013
- Lamare, Didier, "Bruce Brubaker, Glass Piano", "demi-cadratin", August 7, 2015
- Eichler, Jeremy, "Classical picks", Boston Globe, February 2, 2007, p. D5
- program listings, 2004-2005, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
- "Commissions", Irving S. Gilmore Keyboard Festival
- Griffiths, Paul, "Music Review: One Minimalist Color After Another", The New York Times, October 24, 1998
- Kosman, Joshua, "CD Reviews: Bruce Brubaker", San Francisco Chronicle, September 2, 2007
- Smith, Steve, "Modern Pieces, Classically Performed", The New York Times, June 7, 2008
- Brubaker, Bruce, "Time is Time: Temporal Signification in Music", in Unfolding Time: Studies in Temporality in Twentieth-Century Music, Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2009, ISBN 9789058677358
- abstract of Brubaker Bruce, "Questions Not Answers: The Performer as Researcher", Dutch Journal of Music Theory (Tijdschrift voor Muziektheorie), XII:1, 2007
- Brubaker, Bruce, "Don't Ask", ArtsJournal.com, November 1, 2011
- Theiner, Manny, "Under the Wire: Pianist Bruce Brubaker ranges from minimalism to Chopin", Pittsburgh City Paper, October 22, 2009
- "Hearing and Seeing: Philip Glass speaks with Bruce Brubaker and Jon Magnussen", Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
- Crispin, Darla, editor, Unfolding Time: Studies in Temporality in Twentieth-Century Music, 2009, p. 195
- Fox, Margalit, "Jacob Lateiner, Pianist and Scholar, Dies at 82", The New York Times, December 14, 2010
- Brubaker, Bruce, "Strengen Sachlichkeit: The Teaching of Jacob Lateiner," in Pianist, Scholar, Connoisseur: Essays in Honor of Jacob Lateiner, Pendragon Press, 2000, pp. 187-221 ISBN 9781576470015
- "People - Bruce Brubaker" WQXR.org
- Griffiths, Paul, "Control Offers Clarity: Bruce Brubaker, Wigmore Hall", The Times (London), March 23, 1990
- Kozinn, Allan, "A Prolific Composer Pauses, Briefly, for His Birthday", The New York Times, January 30, 2012
- "Bruce Brubaker and Francesco Tristano Live" WQXR.org
- Bruce Brubaker bio at (Le) Poisson Rouge website
- Crispin, Darla, editor, "Bruce Brubaker [biography]" Unfolding Time: Studies in Temporality in Twentieth-Century Music, Leuven: University of Leuven Press, 2009, p. 195 ISBN 9789058677358
- Kosman, Joshua, "CD Review: Bruce Brubaker, 'Time Curve'", San Francisco Chronicle, August 2, 2009
- Robinson, Harlow, "Brubaker recital proves eclectic, hypnotic, and timeless", Boston Globe, February 12, 2011
- Sheridan, Molly, "New York: Our Lady of Late", NewMusicBox.org, November 15, 2005
- Weininger, David, "The Keyboard and Meredith Monk", Boston Globe, March 30, 2012
- Jeffryes, Jai, "Profile of Bruce Brubaker", NewYorkPianist.net, December 15, 2008
- faculty biography pages at New England Conservatory, necmusic.edu
- Tommasini, Anthony, "Wafting through the 1930s on Piano Notes", The New York Times, November 25, 1999
- Brubaker, Bruce, "Surrounded by this Incredible Vortex of Musical Expression: A Conversation with Gunther Schuller", Perspectives of New Music, Volume 49, Number 1 (Winter 2011), pp. 172-181.
- Drake University Press Release, "Drake University to host SummerMusic," URL=http://news.drake.edu/2012/09/10/drake-university-to-host-summermusic/
- Bruce Brubaker recordings at Arabesque website
- Jones, Lucy, "Classical music dead? Nico Muhly proves it isn't", The Telegraph, May 28, 2012
- "NICO MUHLY: Drones & Piano/Drones & Viola/Drones & Violin (Bedroom Community)", themilkfactory.co.uk, September 6, 2012