Bruce Brubaker

Bruce Brubaker, the musician, artist, concert pianist, and writer, was born in Iowa in the United States.

Bruce Brubaker in 1995, photo: Hatice Nazan Isik


Brubaker's work uses and combines Western classical music with postmodern artistic, literary, theatrical, and philosophical ideas.[1][2] He is associated with the twenty-first century revitalization of classical music (sometimes termed "alternative classical").[3] With over 125 million plays on Spotify, Brubaker reaches a large music audience online. Brubaker's recordings have been remixed by prominent electronic musicians, including Plaid, Max Cooper, Akufen, Francesco Tristano, Arandel, and others.[4] He is praised as a performer of music by Philip Glass;[5][6] 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."[7] He has created and performed multidisciplinary artworks at the Festival de La Roque-d'Anthéron,[8] the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston,[9] Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study,[10] the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival,[11] Columbia University,[12] and at the Juilliard School. Brubaker has published articles about music and semiotics,[13] and performance as research.[14] Brubaker advocates the treatment of written music as "text"—he has sometimes performed and recorded new music without the direct input of the composer.[15] 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."[16] 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."[17]


Brubaker was born in Des Moines, Iowa in the United States and educated at the Juilliard School[18] where his primary teacher was pianist Jacob Lateiner.[19][20] 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,[21] Haydn's music at the Wigmore Hall,[22] Alvin Curran's music at Kings Place in London,[23] Messiaen's music and Philip Glass's music at New York City's (Le) Poisson Rouge nightclub,[24] Brahms's music at Leipzig's Gewandhaus, and extemporizing simultaneous performances with his former student Francesco Tristano[25] and jazz legend Ran Blake.

He received a fellowship grant from the National Endowment from the Arts,[26] and was named Young Musician of the Year by Musical America. Brubaker was a National Merit Scholar. He has performed at Leipzig's Gewandhaus, New York's David Geffen Hall, and Antwerp's Queen Elizabeth Hall.[27] Brubaker's blog "PianoMorphosis" appears at


Brubaker's solo piano recordings survey a range of American music by Philip Glass,[5] John Adams, Alvin Curran, William Duckworth, Meredith Monk, Nico Muhly, and John Cage.[28] Brubaker has premiered piano music by Cage, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Nico Muhly,[29] and Daron Hagen. He has collaborated with Meredith Monk.[30] In 2012, Brubaker, together with Ursula Oppens, recorded Monk's piano music.[31] His album Codex includes multiple readings of Terry Riley's Keyboard Study No. 2 and Renaissance keyboard pieces from the Faenza Codex.

Curator and teacherEdit

For nine years, Brubaker was a faculty member at The Juilliard School[32] where he originated an interdisciplinary performance program in 2001, producing new work with dancers, actors, and musicians. Students from Brubaker's piano repertory class at Juilliard include many distinguished pianists: Francesco Tristano, Simone Dinnerstein, Shai Wosner, Helen Huang, Vicky Chow, David Greilsammer, Elizabeth Joy Roe, Greg Anderson, Vikingur Olafsson, Stewart Goodyear, Adam Nieman, Soyeon Lee, Terrence Wilson, Christopher Guzman, Eric Huebner. At Juilliard, he gave public presentations with Philip Glass, Meredith Monk, and Milton Babbitt.[33] In 2000, he produced "Piano Century," an eleven-concert retrospective of 20th-century piano music.[34] 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.[33][35] At New England Conservatory, Brubaker has appeared in public conversations with Alvin Curran, Meredith Monk, Tim Page, Salvatore Sciarrino and Russell Sherman.

In 1994, Brubaker founded SummerMusic now held at Drake University in his hometown of Des Moines; he returns annually to lead it.[36]


Brubaker records for ECM, InFiné, Arabesque,[37] and Bedroom Community.


  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. ^ "Out Now Glass Piano Versions"
  5. ^ a b Kosman, Joshua, "CD Reviews: Bruce Brubaker", San Francisco Chronicle, September 2, 2007
  6. ^ Duclos, Roland, "Glass dans le miroir de Brubaker" February 4, 2017
  7. ^ Smith, Steve, "Modern Pieces, Classically Performed", The New York Times, June 7, 2008
  8. ^ Lamare, Didier, "Bruce Brubaker, Glass Piano", "demi-cadratin", August 7, 2015
  9. ^ Eichler, Jeremy, "Classical picks", Boston Globe, February 2, 2007, p. D5
  10. ^ program listings, 2004-2005 Archived April 18, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
  11. ^ "Commissions", Irving S. Gilmore Keyboard Festival
  12. ^ Griffiths, Paul, "Music Review: One Minimalist Color After Another", The New York Times, October 24, 1998
  13. ^ 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
  14. ^ 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
  15. ^ Brubaker, Bruce, "Don't Ask",, November 1, 2011
  16. ^ Theiner, Manny, "Under the Wire: Pianist Bruce Brubaker ranges from minimalism to Chopin", Pittsburgh City Paper, October 22, 2009
  17. ^ "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
  18. ^ Crispin, Darla, editor, Unfolding Time: Studies in Temporality in Twentieth-Century Music, 2009, p. 195
  19. ^ Fox, Margalit, "Jacob Lateiner, Pianist and Scholar, Dies at 82", The New York Times, December 14, 2010
  20. ^ 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
  21. ^ "People - Bruce Brubaker"
  22. ^ Griffiths, Paul, "Control Offers Clarity: Bruce Brubaker, Wigmore Hall", The Times (London), March 23, 1990
  23. ^ Kilbey, Paul, "Bruce Brubaker Plays Alvin Curran at Kings Place",, May 24, 2013
  24. ^ Kozinn, Allan, "A Prolific Composer Pauses, Briefly, for His Birthday", The New York Times, January 30, 2012
  25. ^ "Bruce Brubaker and Francesco Tristano Live"
  26. ^ Bruce Brubaker bio at (Le) Poisson Rouge website Archived January 27, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ 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
  28. ^ Kosman, Joshua, "CD Review: Bruce Brubaker, 'Time Curve'", San Francisco Chronicle, August 2, 2009
  29. ^ Robinson, Harlow, "Brubaker recital proves eclectic, hypnotic, and timeless", Boston Globe, February 12, 2011
  30. ^ Sheridan, Molly, "New York: Our Lady of Late",, November 15, 2005
  31. ^ Weininger, David, "The Keyboard and Meredith Monk", Boston Globe, March 30, 2012
  32. ^ Jeffryes, Jai, "Profile of Bruce Brubaker" Archived 2012-04-14 at the Wayback Machine,, December 15, 2008
  33. ^ a b faculty biography pages at New England Conservatory,
  34. ^ Tommasini, Anthony, "Wafting through the 1930s on Piano Notes", The New York Times, November 25, 1999
  35. ^ 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.
  36. ^ "Drake University Press Release, "Drake University to host SummerMusic"".
  37. ^ "Bruce Brubaker recordings at Arabesque website". Archived from the original on 2011-07-05. Retrieved 2012-04-17.
  38. ^ Jones, Lucy, "Classical music dead? Nico Muhly proves it isn't", The Telegraph, May 28, 2012
  39. ^ "NICO MUHLY: Drones & Piano/Drones & Viola/Drones & Violin (Bedroom Community)",, September 6, 2012