Robert Burger is a composer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist, and music director.
Burger began playing piano at an early age, starting his formal training at age 6 with renowned pianist Jeffrey Marcus. He played in local and school bands during his youth, and then went on to study classical performance at the University of Massachusetts with pianist Nigel Cox, as well as African American Studies and improvisation under the direction of Yusef Lateef. In 1994, he was recruited as accordionist, to the Bill Frisell Band, featuring Joey Baron, Kermit Driscoll, and Don Byron. Burger moved to San Francisco in 1995 and formed the Tin Hat Trio. With them, he co-wrote and co-produced four critically acclaimed recordings for various major labels. The group's recordings Helium and The Rodeo Eroded each feature guest vocal performances by Tom Waits and Willie Nelson. In 2001, Burger moved back to New York where he worked closely with composer John Zorn, contributing as a featured soloist to many of his scores and recordings. He has released two full-length solo recordings on the Tzadik label, entitled Lost Photograph (2002) and City of Strangers (2009)
Composer and Improvisor
Burger has scored and contributed as a soloist to a number of feature and documentary films including Everything is Illuminated, directed by Liev Schreiber; Diminished Capacity, directed by Terry Kinney; 360, directed by Fernando Meirelles; The Treatment, directed by Oren Rudavsky; The Good Girl, directed by Miguel Arteta; East Of Acadia; Bully, directed by Lee Hirsch; The Disappearance of McKinley Nolan, directed by Henry Corra; Chelsea on the Rocks, directed by Abel Ferrara; and the Oscar nominated film Nebraska, directed by Alexander Payne.
A versatile composer and player, Rob has also served as a "do-it-all, one-stop shop" for commercials seeking original music. In 2013 and 2014, he worked with clients including Toyota, Safeway, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Scholastic, and Mercedes-Benz.
Instrumentalist, Arranger, and Music Director
Burger has teamed up with some of the greatest names in music for much larger scale productions. Beginning in 2003, Burger became an active arranger and music director for various live performances produced by Hal Willner, that celebrated the artistry of Leonard Cohen, Bill Withers, Doc Pomus, among others.
In 2008, he performed the music of Bernard Herrmann as a featured soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He has shared the stage with, and has contributed to the recordings of many acclaimed artists including Elvis Costello, David Hidalgo, Marianne Faithfull, Sting, Rufus Wainwright, Nick Cave, Antony & the Johnsons, Lucinda Williams, Tracy Chapman, Iron & Wine, Beth Orton, and Laurie Anderson. He has collaborated in the studio with musicians Jim Keltner, Brian Blade, Marc Ribot, Greg Cohen, and Bill Laswell.
In 2011, after several years of working with Sam Beam of Iron & Wine, Burger was asked to produce the song “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” for the soundtrack of Twilight Breaking Dawn – Part 1. He then went on to arrange and provide music direction for the band’s fifth release Ghost On Ghost, and a world tour that followed.
In 2014, he was invited to perform in Hal Willner's project Sleeping in the Devil’s Bed: The Music of Daniel Lanois, as part of Toronto's Luminato Festival. Daniel Lanois was present and featured, along with Emmylou Harris.
In 2017, Burger was reunited with Iron & Wine to record their sixth album, Beast Epic. The recordings took place in Chicago at the band Wilco's studio, The Loft.
- Tin Hat Trio - Memory Is An Elephant (1999)
- Tin Hat Trio - Helium (2000)
- Tin Hat Trio - The Rodeo Eroded (2002)
- Rob Burger - Lost Photograph (2002)
- Tin Hat Trio - Book Of Silk (2004)
- Robert Burger - City Of Strangers (2009)
As session musician
- Tipsy - Trip Tease: The Seductive Sounds Of Tipsy (1997)
- Matt Nathanson - Ernst (1997)
- Jim Campilongo - Table For One (1998)
- Mix Master Mike - Anti Theft Device (1998)
- Oranj Symphonette - The Oranj Album (1998)
- Will Bernard - Medicine Hat (1998)
- Susana Baca - Eco De Sombras (2000)
- Lullaby Baxter - Lullaby Baxter (2000)
- Tipsy - Uh Oh (2001)
- Norah Jones - Come Away With Me (2002)
- Rufus Wainwright - Want Two (2004)
- Norah Jones - Feels Like Home (2004)
- Mary Mulliken - I 8 the Sandbox (2004)
- Laura Cantrell - Humming By The Flowered Vine (2005)
- Richard Buckner - Meadow (2006)
- Beth Orton - Comfort Of Strangers (2006)
- Calexico - Garden Ruin (2006)
- Linda Thompson - Versatile Heart (2007)
- Rufus Wainwright - Release The Stars (2007)
- Iron & Wine - The Shepherd's Dog (2007)
- Lucinda Williams - West (2007)
- Marc Almond - Stardom Road (2007)
- Tracy Chapman - Our Bright Future (2008)
- Marianne Faithfull - Easy Come, Easy Go (2008)
- Lucinda Williams - Little Honey (2008)
- Iron & Wine - Around The Well (2009)
- John Zorn - Alhambra Love Songs (2009)
- Christina Courtin - Christina Courtin (2009)
- John Zorn - In Search Of The Miraculous (2010)
- Laurie Anderson - Homeland (2010)
- John Zorn - Goddess Music For The Ancient Days (2010)
- Jesse Harris - Cosmo (2010)
- Iron & Wine - Kiss Each Other Clean (2011)
- Laura Veirs - Tumble Bee: Laura Veirs Sings Folk Songs for Children (2011)
- Mike Coykendall - Chasing Away The Dots (2012)
- Beth Orton - Sugaring Season (2012)
- Tift Merritt - Traveling Alone (2012)
- John Zorn - Nosferatu (2012)
- Anaïs Mitchell- Young Man In America (2012)
- Sly and Robbie - Survive (2012)
- Linda Thompson - Won't Be Long Now (2013)
- Laura Veirs - Warp And Weft (2013)
- Aoife O'Donovan - Fossils (2013)
- Son Of Rogues Gallery - Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys (2013)
- Iron & Wine - Ghost On Ghost (2013)
- Christina Courtin - Varsity (2013)
- Sam Beam & Jesca Hoop - Love Letter For Fire (2016)
- Bob Weir - Blue Mountain (2016)
- case/lang/veirs - case/lang/veirs (2016)
As composer of score
- Chelsea On The Rocks (2008)
- Diminished Capacity (2008)
- The Disappearance of McKinley Nolan (2010)
- Frank The Bastard (2013)
- Trouble (2017)
As composer of featured works
As featured soloist
- The Good Girl (2002)
- Invitation to a Suicide (2002)
- Everything is Illuminated (2005)
- Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man (2005)
- The Treatment (2006)
- Waitress (2007)
- American Loser (2007)
- The Rain Horse (2008)
- El General (2009)
- Still Bill (2009)
- Today's Special (2009)
- Paper Man (2009)
- The Nobel Prizewinner (2010)
- Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness (2011)
- The Swell Season (2011)
- Twilight Breaking Dawn - Part 1 (2011)
- Greetings From Tim Buckley (2012)
- Beyond the Infinite (2013)
- "Robert Burger". IMDB.
- Stone, Michael. "Rob Burger / An Interview". RootsWorld.
- "Robert Burger | Biography". Hans Wendl Produktion.
- "About". Tin Hat Official Website.
- "Recordings". Tin Hat Official Website.
- "Rob Burger: Lost Photograph". Amazon.
- Allen, Warren. "Rob Burger: City of Strangers". All About Jazz.
- "Various – Everything Is Illuminated (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)". Discogs.
- "Diminished Capacity (2008)". IMDb.
- "360 (2011)". IMDb.
- "John Zorn: Filmworks XVIII: The Treatment". Tzadik.
- "The Good Girl". Mark Orton Official Website.
- "Bully (2011)". IMDb.
- "The Disappearance of McKinley Nolan (2010)". IMDb.
- Collins, Ashley Wren. "The Disappearance of McKinley Nolan: Must-See Vietnam Feature Doc Asks All the Right Questions". The Huffington Post.
- "Chelsea On The Rocks by Abel Ferrera". Stockholm Film Festival.
- "Nebraska Soundtrack CD Album". CD Universe.
- "How 'Nebraska's' Composer Wrote Americana Music Without 'Banjo Plucking'". The Hollywood Reporter.
- "Film & TV". Rob Burger Official Website.
- "Hal Willner Projects". The Office Performing Arts + Film.
- "Came So Far For Beauty". Leonard Cohen Files.
- "Concerts". The Bernard Hermann Society.
- "Various – The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)". Discogs.
- "About Iron and Wine". Iron and Wine Official Website.
- "Sleeping in the Devil's Bed: The Music of Daniel Lanois". Luminato Festival.
- "Rob Burger". AllMusic.
- "Discography". Rob Burger Official Website.