Herbert Brün (1918 - 2000)


Herbert Brün was born in Berlin, Germany in 1918.
He left Germany in 1936 for Palestine, where he
studied piano and composition at the Jerusalem
Conservatory and then with Stefan Wolpe, Eli
Friedman, and Frank Pelleg. He furthered his studies
at Tanglewood and Columbia University from 1948
through 1950.

From 1955-61, in addition to composing, he conducted
research concerning electro-acoustics with regard to
possibilities for musical composition in Paris, Cologne,
and Munich. During this period he also worked as
composer and conductor of music for the theater,
gave lectures and seminars emphasizing the function
of music in society, and did a series of broadcasts
on contemporary music.

After a lecture tour of the U.S. in 1962, Brün was
invited by Lejaren Hiller to join the faculty of the
University of Illinois. There Brün continued his work
in the electronic studio and began research on
composition with computers, which resulted in pieces
for tape and instruments, tape alone, and graphics
(some to be performed by interpreters). He collaborated
with Heinz von Foerster on several interdisciplinary
courses in heuristics and cybernetics at the Biological
Computer Laboratory (1968-74). Throughout the
1970s, 8Os, and mid 90s, while remaining on the
University of Illinois faculty (Professor Emeritus 1987),
Brün held residencies and guest professorships around
the world most notably at Ohio State University (1969.
70), the Hochschule der Kunst and Technische
Universtat, Berlin (Summer 1978), and
Gesamthochschule Kassel, 1989).

From 1980 on, he toured and taught with the Performers'
Workshop Ensemble, a group he founded. His awards
and honors include an honorary doctorate from the
University of Frankfurt, one prize from the International
Society of Bassists, (1977), and the Norbert Wiener medal
from the American Society for Cybernetics 1993. He
helped found the School for Designing Society in
1993 and taught there through the year 2000.  Brün
wrote and spoke incisively on the social and political
significance of composition and on the tendencies of
language to preempt thought.  He died in the year 2000.

photograph by David Bunn


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