Bruce Brubaker

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the baseball player, see Bruce Brubaker (baseball).
Bruce Brubaker in 1995, photo: Hatice Nazan Isik

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.[1][2] He is associated with the recent revitalization of classical music (sometimes termed "alternative classical").[3] He has created and performed multidisciplinary projects at the International Piano Festival La Roque d'Anthéron,[4] the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston,[5] Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study,[6] the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival,[7] Columbia University,[8] and at the Juilliard School. He is praised as a performer of music by Philip Glass;[9] 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."[10] Brubaker has published articles about music and semiotics,[11] and performance as research.[12] Brubaker advocates the treatment of written music as "text"—he has sometimes performed and recorded new music without the direct input of the composer.[13] 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."[14] 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."[15]


Brubaker was born in Des Moines, Iowa and educated at the Juilliard School[16] where his primary teacher was pianist Jacob Lateiner.[17][18] 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,[19] Haydn's music at the Wigmore Hall,[20] Messiaen's music and Philip Glass's music at New York City's (Le) Poisson Rouge nightclub,[21] Brahms's music at Leipzig's Gewandhaus, and extemporizing simultaneous performances with his former student Francesco Tristano[22] and jazz legend Ran Blake.

He received a fellowship grant from the National Endowment from the Arts,[23] 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.[24] Brubaker's blog "PianoMorphosis" appears at


Brubaker's solo piano recordings survey a range of American music by Glass,[9] John Adams, Alvin Curran, William Duckworth, Nico Muhly, and John Cage.[25] Brubaker has premiered piano music by Cage, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Nico Muhly,[26] and Daron Hagen. He has collaborated with Meredith Monk.[27] In 2012, Brubaker, together with Ursula Oppens, recorded Monk's piano music.[28]

Curator and teacher[edit]

For nine years, Brubaker was a faculty member at The Juilliard School[29] 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.[30] In 2000, he produced "Piano Century," an eleven-concert retrospective of 20th-century piano music.[31] 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.[30][32]

In 1994, Brubaker founded The SummerMusic Festival at Drake University in his hometown of Des Moines; he returns annually to lead it.[33]


Brubaker records for Arabesque,[34] Bedroom Community, ECM, and InFiné.


  1. ^ Da Costa, Damian, "The Post-postmodern Pianist", The New York Observer, May 5, 2009
  2. ^ Dyer, Richard, "New England Conservatory pianist makes a minimalist effort", Boston Globe, October 3, 2004
  3. ^ 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
  4. ^ Lamare, Didier, "Bruce Brubaker, Glass Piano", "demi-cadratin", August 7, 2015
  5. ^ Eichler, Jeremy, "Classical picks", Boston Globe, February 2, 2007, p. D5
  6. ^ program listings, 2004-2005 Archived April 18, 2012, at the Wayback Machine., Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
  7. ^ "Commissions", Irving S. Gilmore Keyboard Festival
  8. ^ Griffiths, Paul, "Music Review: One Minimalist Color After Another", The New York Times, October 24, 1998
  9. ^ a b Kosman, Joshua, "CD Reviews: Bruce Brubaker", San Francisco Chronicle, September 2, 2007
  10. ^ Smith, Steve, "Modern Pieces, Classically Performed", The New York Times, June 7, 2008
  11. ^ 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
  12. ^ abstract of Brubaker Bruce, "Questions Not Answers: The Performer as Researcher" Archived May 19, 2014, at the Wayback Machine., Dutch Journal of Music Theory (Tijdschrift voor Muziektheorie), XII:1, 2007
  13. ^ Brubaker, Bruce, "Don't Ask",, November 1, 2011
  14. ^ Theiner, Manny, "Under the Wire: Pianist Bruce Brubaker ranges from minimalism to Chopin", Pittsburgh City Paper, October 22, 2009
  15. ^ "Hearing and Seeing: Philip Glass speaks with Bruce Brubaker and Jon Magnussen" Archived May 11, 2012, at the Wayback Machine., Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
  16. ^ Crispin, Darla, editor, Unfolding Time: Studies in Temporality in Twentieth-Century Music, 2009, p. 195
  17. ^ Fox, Margalit, "Jacob Lateiner, Pianist and Scholar, Dies at 82", The New York Times, December 14, 2010
  18. ^ 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
  19. ^ "People - Bruce Brubaker"
  20. ^ Griffiths, Paul, "Control Offers Clarity: Bruce Brubaker, Wigmore Hall", The Times (London), March 23, 1990
  21. ^ Kozinn, Allan, "A Prolific Composer Pauses, Briefly, for His Birthday", The New York Times, January 30, 2012
  22. ^ "Bruce Brubaker and Francesco Tristano Live"
  23. ^ Bruce Brubaker bio at (Le) Poisson Rouge website Archived January 27, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  24. ^ 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
  25. ^ Kosman, Joshua, "CD Review: Bruce Brubaker, 'Time Curve'", San Francisco Chronicle, August 2, 2009
  26. ^ Robinson, Harlow, "Brubaker recital proves eclectic, hypnotic, and timeless", Boston Globe, February 12, 2011
  27. ^ Sheridan, Molly, "New York: Our Lady of Late",, November 15, 2005
  28. ^ Weininger, David, "The Keyboard and Meredith Monk", Boston Globe, March 30, 2012
  29. ^ Jeffryes, Jai, "Profile of Bruce Brubaker",, December 15, 2008
  30. ^ a b faculty biography pages at New England Conservatory,
  31. ^ Tommasini, Anthony, "Wafting through the 1930s on Piano Notes", The New York Times, November 25, 1999
  32. ^ 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.
  33. ^ Drake University Press Release, "Drake University to host SummerMusic," URL=
  34. ^ Bruce Brubaker recordings at Arabesque website
  35. ^ Jones, Lucy, "Classical music dead? Nico Muhly proves it isn't", The Telegraph, May 28, 2012
  36. ^ "NICO MUHLY: Drones & Piano/Drones & Viola/Drones & Violin (Bedroom Community)",, September 6, 2012