David Behrman

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David Behrman
Behrman in 2012
Born (1937-08-16) August 16, 1937 (age 86)
EducationPhillips Academy
Alma materHarvard University (B.A.)
Columbia University (M.A.)
  • Composer
  • producer
  • professor
Years active1962–present
Employer(s)Bard College
California Institute of the Arts
Mills College
Ohio State University
Rutgers University
Technical University of Berlin
Known forSonic Arts Union
Notable workOn the Other Ocean
(div. 1969)
Terri Hanlon
(m. 1979)
RelativesJascha Heifetz (uncle)

David Behrman (born August 16, 1937) is an American composer and a pioneer of computer music. In the early 1960s he was the producer of Columbia Records' Music of Our Time series, which included the first recording of Terry Riley's In C.[1] In 1966 Behrman co-founded Sonic Arts Union with fellow composers Robert Ashley, Alvin Lucier and Gordon Mumma. He wrote the music for Merce Cunningham's dances Walkaround Time (1968), Rebus (1975), Pictures (1984) and Eyespace 40 (2007). In 1978, he released his debut album On the Other Ocean, a pioneering work combining computer music with live performance.[2][3]


Early life and education[edit]

Behrman's father, S. N. Behrman, was a successful playwright and Hollywood screenplay writer. His mother Elza Heifetz Behrman was the sister of violinist Jascha Heifetz.

Behrman attended the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, where his classmates included Carl Andre, Hollis Frampton and Frank Stella. There he also developed a lifelong friendship with composer and pianist Frederic Rzewski. While attending summer camp at Indian Hill in 1953 he was taught modern music by Wallingford Riegger. He studied music at Harvard from 1955 to 1959,[4] where he formed a lifelong friendship with Christian Wolff and where he continued his friendship with Frederic Rzewski. He attended the summer school at Darmstadt in 1959, where he met La Monte Young and Nam June Paik. He received a Master of Arts from Columbia University in 1963.[4]


He has been a member of the Avery Graduate Arts Program faculty at Bard College since 1998. He was co-director of the Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College in 1975–1980, and has taught also at the California Institute of the Arts, Ohio State University, Rutgers University, and the Technical University of Berlin.[citation needed]


Behrman is known as a minimalist composer.[5] His music has often involved interactions between live performers and computers, usually with the computer generating sounds triggered by some aspect of the live performance, usually certain pitches, but sometimes other aspects of the live sound, such as volume in QRSL (as recorded by Maggi Payne on The Extended Flute (CRI807). Many of his significant works, such as On the Other Ocean, Interspecies Small Talk, and others have been released on Lovely Music.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Behrman was briefly married to Japanese video artist, sculptor and avant-garde performance artist Shigeko Kubota.[6] The marriage ended in 1969.[7] He has been married since 1979 to media-artist Terri Hanlon.[1]

Behrman lives in New York City.[1]



  • On the Other Ocean Lovely Music Ltd. (1977)
  • Leapday Night Lovely Music Ltd. (1987)
  • Unforeseen Events XI Records (1991)
  • Wave Train Alga Marghen (1998)
  • My Dear Siegfried XI Records (2005)


  • 1976 - Music With Roots in the Aether: Opera for Television. Tape 1: David Behrman. Produced and directed by Robert Ashley. New York, New York: Lovely Music.
  • 2008 - Roulette TV: David Behrman. Roulette Intermedium Inc.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c David Behrman: Foundation for Contemporary Arts. Biography.
  2. ^ Rockwell, John (March 12, 1978). "Trends in New Music on Disks". The New York Times. Retrieved February 16, 2019.
  3. ^ Jennie Gottschalk (11 August 2016). Experimental Music Since 1970. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 74–. ISBN 978-1-62892-251-6.
  4. ^ a b "Electronic Music Brandeis Composers".
  5. ^ Kenneth Goldsmith. "David Behrman: Composer as Record Executive" from "Don't Quit Your Day Job". 2000. New Music Box / American Music Center.
  6. ^ Grimes, William (28 July 2015). "Shigeko Kubota, a Creator of Video Sculptures, Dies at 77". The New York Times.
  7. ^ "Caroline A. Jones on Shigeko Kubota (1937–2015)".