Discipline: Music Composition

Elizabeth Brown

Discipline: Music Composition
Region: Brooklyn, NY
MacDowell Fellowships: 1990, 1991, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008

Elizabeth Brown is an American composer and performer who combines a composing career with an extremely diverse performing life, playing flute, shakuhachi, and theremin in a wide variety of musical circles. Her chamber music, shaped by this unique group of instruments and experiences, has been called luminous, dreamlike, and hallucinatory. Brown's music has been heard in Japan, the Soviet Union, Colombia, Australia, South Africa, and Vietnam as well as across the U.S. and Europe. A 2007 Guggenheim Fellowship recipient, she has received grants, awards and commissions from Orpheus, St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble, Newband, the Asian Cultural Council, the Japan/US Friendship Commission, Meet the Composer, the Electronic Music Foundation, the Cary Trust, and NYFA. She has both played with Orpheus and also written for them; Orpheus commissioned Lost Waltz in 1997 and premiered it in Carnegie Hall. She has two solo CDs: Elizabeth Brown: Mirage (New World) and Blue Minor: Chamber Music by Elizabeth Brown (Albany), and her music is also available on CRI, Innova, and Music and Arts. She is celebrated both here and in Japan for her compositions combining eastern and western sensibilities. Grand Prize Winner in the Makino Yutaka Composition Competition for Japanese traditional instrument orchestra in 2011, she was also and a prizewinner in the SGCM Shakuhachi Composition Competition 2010, with performances in Tokyo's Kioi Hall and Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall, Takemitsu Memorial. Music from Japan presented the Japanese premiere of Rubicon in Fukushima prefecture, performed by members of Tokyo's celebrated Reigakusha gagaku orchestra. Music from Japan also commissioned fragments for the moon, for concerts featuring Brown with nohkan/shinobue artist Kohei Nishikawa in 2011 in New York City and at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. Brown has been Artist-in-Residence in the Grand Canyon, working on a series of solo shakuhachi pieces inspired by particular places in nature. She has also given solo moonlight shakuhachi performances in the sculpture quarry of the Lacoste School for the Arts in Provence, and as Artist-in-Residence in both Maine's Acadia National Park and Isle Royale National Park, a U.S. Biosphere Reserve in the middle of Lake Superior. Since she premiered Mirage, for shakuhachi and string quartet, with the Grainger Quartet at the World Shakuhachi Festival 2008 in Sydney, Australia, it has also been performed in Tokyo, Prague, and New York City. After receiving a Master's degree in flute performance from The Juilliard School in 1977, she started composing in the late 1970's. She lives in Brooklyn with visual artist Lothar Osterburg.


Irving Fine

Elizabeth Brown worked in the Irving Fine studio.

Youngstown Studio was given to MacDowell by friends of Miss Myra McKeown in Youngstown, OH, where she promoted both art and music. It was renamed Irving Fine Studio in 1972 in honor of Irving Fine, a distinguished composer, conductor, and teacher who was a MacDowell Fellow during the 1940s and 1950s. The simple interior of the studio…

Learn more