Ryan Brown
  1. Faculty

Ryan Brown

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs; Music History and Literature; Professional Development

Our Friend Adam Ryan Brown Our Friend Adam by Ryan Brown.

“nimble, expressive, ear-turning and strange in an accessible way” —Washington City Paper


  • Building Your Digital Presence
  • Avant-Rock
  • Great Artists Steal: Music of Igor Stravinsky
  • Minimalism


  • PhD, Princeton University
  • MM, Princeton University
  • MM, San Francisco Conservatory of Music
  • BM, California State University, Long Beach


  • Finalist, Gaudeamus Prize, 2009
  • ASCAP Young Composer Award, 2008
  • Gerbode-Hewlett Emerging Composer Award, 2007

What is your hometown?

San Dimas, CA

What are you passionate about outside of music?

Literature, design, and history.

Who were your major teachers?

Steven Mackey, Dmitri Tymoczko, and Dan Becker.

What is a favorite quote that you repeatedly tell students?

"Lesser artists borrow, great artists steal."
—Stravinsky/Picasso/T.S. Eliot

What question do you wish students would ask sooner rather than later?

“What does a career in music look like to, and for, me?”

What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue music as a career?

Hearing Steve Reich's Sextet in a freshman music appreciation course.

What was a turning point in your career?

Producing the first Switchboard Music Festival.

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

Something utilizing functional design — architecture, industrial design, etc.

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

Steve Reich, David Lang, and David Bowie.

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

New York City, 1975

What recordings can we hear you on?

Pinched, Splinter Reeds
Four Pieces for Solo Piano, New Amsterdam
The Light By Which She May Have Ascended, New Amsterdam
Under the Rug, New Amsterdam
KNEE GAS (ON), Sqwonk





Described as “nimble, expressive, ear-turning and strange in an accessible way” (Washington City Paper), Ryan Brown’s music has been performed across the country and around the world by many excellent groups, performers, and presenters, including Kronos Quartet, Roomful of Teeth, Crash Ensemble, Brooklyn Philharmonic, pianist Lisa Moore, JACK Quartet, California E.A.R. Unit, Paul Dresher Ensemble, Gaudeamus Festival, Carlsbad Festival, MATA Festival, and the New York Philharmonic’s CONTACT! series. Ryan has received an Emerging Composer Award from the Gerbode and Hewlett Foundations, and a Morton Gould Young Composer Award from ASCAP.  He was a finalist for the 2009 Gaudeamus Prize, and Composer-in-Residence at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts at UC Davis. His music has been recorded on New Amsterdam Records, Tritone Records, and TraceLabel. In addition to composing, Ryan is co-founder and Executive Director of Switchboard Music, a San Francisco-based non-profit presenting innovative and eclectic music from the Bay Area and beyond. Also active as both an electric guitarist and electric bassist, Ryan has been a featured performer in works by Terry Riley, Steve Reich, John Adams, and Steve Mackey, and has performed his music with the JACK Quartet and Brooklyn Philharmonic. Ryan received his Ph.D. from Princeton University, and is also a graduate of California State University-Long Beach and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.