Margaret Brouwer, Composer


“If more composers would write in this vein—lyrical, accessible, powerful and moving—the uneasy truce between audiences and modern music would quickly come to an end.” So wrote one critic about the work of Margaret Brouwer, composer and head of the composition department at the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM).

To be sure, Brouwer, one of the most widely performed of the composers currently resident in Cleveland, does not aim for “easy listening”; but whatever its degree of complexity or simplicity, her work means most of all to communicate directly. As another national reviewer has noted: “The music makes no obvious concessions toward styles of the day.  . . . it inhabits its own peculiarly bewitching world.”

Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Brouwer studied at Oberlin College, graduating in 1962; she earned her doctorate from Indiana University. Her teachers have included Donald Erb (in Texas), Harvey Sollberger, Frederick Fox, and George Crumb. Before coming to Cleveland in 1996 to succeed Erb at CIM, she served as composer-in-residence with the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra in Virginia and founded and directed a music festival at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.

Having started out as a violinist, Brouwer soon gained distinction as a composer, winning numerous prizes and awards and undertaking residencies at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center in Italy, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts and the Charles Ives Center for American Music. Commissions have come from the St. Louis, Roanoke and Juilliard orchestras and from chamber music societies and individual artists. Her First Symphony was performed by the orchestras of Akron, Wichita and Long Beach.

Virtually all Margaret Brouwer’s music is published by the prestigious firm of Carl Fischer, New York, and much of it has been recorded. A CD of four chamber music works was released on the CRI label. Her Clarinet Concerto was recorded by the renowned Richard Stoltzman, and at present she is writing a percussion concerto at the request of Evelyn Glennie, today the most acclaimed performer in that instrumental field.

“Margaret’s pieces are always very engaging—satisfying to listener and performer alike,” says composer Marilyn Shrude, the 1998 Arts Prize winner. “She has a wonderful ear for color, and I have always been impressed with the technical aspects of her work. Every note matters! Those who play her music thoroughly enjoy it.”

It is not one of the criteria of the Arts Prize, but Margaret Brouwer has also been consistently concerned with the well-being of her fellow composers, whose music she features on the regular programs of her New Music Ensemble at CIM. A dedicated teacher, she is a respected mentor to many gifted students.

—Klaus G. Roy

For more on the composer visit

Cleveland Arts Prize
P.O. Box 21126 • Cleveland, OH 44121 • 440-523-9889 •