1. Faculty

Elinor Armer


"Armer… a kind of musical fabulist, spinning fantasies about actual and mythical beings with humor, affection, and a sense of wonder. Her musical style is distinctly modern, but freely and authentically so, projecting her own individual voice." —San Francisco Classical Voice


  • Private Lessons


  • MA, California State University, San Francisco
  • BA, Mills College

What is your hometown?

David, CA

What is your favorite recording?

A 78 RPM record of Gershwin playing Rhapsody in Blue with Paul Whiteman's band.

What are you passionate about outside of music?

Friendship, writing, nature, and politics.

Who were your major teachers?

Darius Milhaud and Alexander Libermann.

What is a favorite quote that you repeatedly tell students?

“Don't try to reinvent the wheel in an effort to be original; your music will always have your own personal stamp.”

What was a turning point in your career?

More of a turning back point: I worked in advertising for a year, and had to return to music making and teaching, for sanity and fulfillment.

If you weren't a musician or teacher, what do you think you would be doing now?

I would be someone else.

If you could play only three composers for the rest of your life, who would they be?

Bach, Bartók, and Mahler.

From a music history perspective, what year and city are most important to you?

Paris, 1915.

What are your most important collaborations?

Uses of Music in Uttermost Parts with Ursula Le Guin; Leonardo's Riddle with Corey Jamason and SFCM Baroque Ensemble; Will You, Won't You? with Mariya Kaganskaya, mezzo.

Who are three students you have had the privilege of teaching?

Aleksandra Vrebalov, Dan Becker, and Carolyn Yarnell.

What recordings can we hear you on?

Uses of Music in Uttermost Parts, Koch International
Music of Darius Milhaud, Kleos
Recollections And Revel, Music and Arts Programs of America

What is your unrealized project?

Currently working on an opera based on Ursula Le Guin's novel Lavinia.