William Brittelle is a composer and multi-instrumentalist devoted to bridging the gap between pop music and New York's downtown classical scene, and a co-director of New Amsterdam Records. He currently lives in Brooklyn.
William Brittelle is a Brooklyn-based composer of post-genre electro-acoustic music. His primary musical mentors include Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Del Tredici, Mike Longo (longtime pianist/arranger for Dizzy Gillespie), and punk guitarist Richard Lloyd of Television. Brittelle’s work is characterized by the melding of complex thematic ideas, rhythms, and formal structure with the visceral power and surface appeal of pop/rock music, a duality perhaps best represented by his most recent album Loving the Chambered Nautilus. Written specifically for the players of ACME (the American Contemporary Music Ensemble), Nautilus is a series of electro-acoustic chamber music pieces melding classic synthesizer sounds and drum programming with virtuosic and textured classical composition. The album has been hailed as a hallmark of the next wave of classical composition. Following an NPR All Things Considered feature, Nautilus hit #1 on Amazon’s Chamber Music Chart. The New York Times labeled the work “bright and joyous,” and MUSO dubbed it “a fast, fun, freedom-fueled flurry of a record.” Perhaps most powerfully, Classical TV stated: “William Brittelle is creating a body of work that has no precedent, and marks him as a one of the most promising heirs of the vital American maverick tradition.”
Previous to Nautilus, Brittelle released Television Landscape, his fully composed, post-apocalyptic art rock concept album scored for orchestra, rock band, synths, and children’s choir. Dubbed “irresistible” by the New York Times and “a glorious reclamation of lush sounds crusty critics have vilified for years” by Time Out NY, Television Landscape drew substantial praise from both rock and classical critics, leading the Los Angeles Times to muse, “You might wonder if Jane’s Addiction had discovered the soul of Debussy.” eMusic called the album “expansive, anthemic, all-encompassing, shot through with raw emotion” and named it to its ”Albums of the Year” list. The album’s centerpiece, the nostalgia-soaked soft rock ballad "Sheena Easton," was singled out by Popmatters for its “complex orchestrations” and “mind-bending arrangements” and taste-maker rock blog My Old Kentucky called the track “one of the more interesting tunes I’ve heard in a while.” The Believer magazine chose the album’s closing track "The Color of Rain" for inclusion in its prestigious annual music issue.
Brittelle’s music has been the subject of features in the New York Times (Sunday Arts & Leisure), the Los Angeles Times, Time Out NY, and NPR’s All Things Considered. His compositions have been presented across the U.S., including performances in Seattle’s Icebreaker Festival curated by Alex Ross and Kyle Gann, the Festival Internacional in Chihuahua, Mexico, the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires by JACK Quartet, Pittsburgh’s Music on the Edge series, New Music New College in Sarasota, Florida, Seattle's Town Hall, the String Theory Festival in Minneapolis/St. Paul, the Switchboard Festival in San Francisco, the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, le Poisson Rouge, Galapagos Art Space, Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater, The Stone, and the Ecstatic Music Festival at Merkin Hall. His music has been commissioned by the Seattle Symphony, the Indianapolis Symphony, the Alabama Symphony, and the Eastern Connecticut Symphony. Recent commissions include Spiritual America, a series of electro-acoustic orchestral art songs featuring the band Wye Oak, a new piece for the Seattle Symphony, and Psychedelics for the Grammy-winning vocal group Roomful of Teeth and the Williams College Chorus. Past collaborative works include orchestral arrangements for the electronic artists Oneohtrix Point Never and Son Lux.
Brittelle has been the recipient of grants and awards from the National Endowment of the Arts, American Music Center, American Composers Forum, the Jerome Foundation, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, NYSCA, and ASCAP. Along with composers Judd Greenstein and Sarah Kirkland Snider, he co-artistic directs New Amsterdam Records and New Amsterdam Presents, a vital Brooklyn-based record label and presenting organization. He is a passionate promoter, presenter, and producer of new and adventurous music in New York City, having overseen the release of more than 55 critically acclaimed recordings. Along with his partners, Brittelle also co-produced and co-presented more than 80 live music events throughout the U.S. in the last four years. He is currently on the faculty of The New School School in New York City, teaching courses in Post-Genre Music and the Ethos of Punk.
- Smith, Steve (1 August 2010). "Agonized Return to a Voice and a Vision". NY Times. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
- Huizenga, Tom (5 August 2012). "Headbanging Bruckner And Debussy In Black And White: New Classical Albums". NPR. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
- Smith, Steve (31 May 2009). "Lonely Swiss Wanderer From Long Ago Becomes Composer’s Muse". New York Times. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
- "The 2011 Music Issue". The Believer. 31 July 2011. Retrieved 22 April 2015.