Brian Israel

From Wind Repertory Project
Brian Israel


Brian Israel (5 February 1951, Bronx, N.Y. – 7 May 1986) was an American composer, pianist, educator and conductor.

Dr. Israel studied with Lawrence Widdoes, Ulysses S Kay, Robert Palmer, Burrill Phillips and Karel Husa. He received his MFA and DMA degrees from Cornell University, and joined the Syracuse University School of Music faculty upon completion of his graduate studies. He remained at Syracuse University until his death from leukemia at age 35.

Israel left a large number of symphonic, chamber, and solo works. His music is marked by extreme contrasts in tempo and mood, often following a witty or downright funny movement with one that is deadly serious. His Concerto for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble is regarded as his "most original creation," according to composer Daniel Godfrey in a 1986 interview. Other notable works include a Piano Quartet (1984), his String Quartet No. 2 ("Music for the Next to Die"), and his final work, Symphony No. 6, for soprano, baritone, and orchestra, with texts from the Bible and Langston Hughes.

As a pianist, composer, and conductor, he performed with numerous ensembles, including, for many years, the Society for New Music.

In his honor, the Syracuse Society for New Music awards the Brian Israel Prize every year to an emerging New York State composer. In addition, Syracuse University gives the Brian Israel Award each year to a deserving student composer at the university.

Works for Winds