Glenn Branca was born in Harrisburg, Pa. in 1948. Starting in 1966 he lived in both Boston and London until 1976 when he moved to NYC where he still lives.
In the last 40 years his work as a composer has included music for experimental rock bands, large ensemble instrumentals for electric guitars, 16 symphonies for both electric instrumentation and acoustic orchestras, chamber ensemble pieces for a wide variety of instrumentation (both electric and acoustic), an opera, a ballet, choral works and music for film, dance, theater and installation art. His ensemble has done hundreds of performances all over the world.
14 full-length albums of his music have been commercially released as well as works included in a number of compilations.
Many hundreds of extensive articles and interviews about his work have been published in major publications, books and music dictionaries worldwide. In addition, he has written five articles on music for The New York Times blog "The Score" and has appeared in at least ten commercial documentary films discussing music.
He is now considered by many to be one of the most influential living composers both in the fields of alternative and experimental rock as well as contemporary classical music. His work has inspired and influenced two generations of composers and musicians, including major rock stars to Academy Award winners to Pulitzer prize composers among many others, too many to name.
At age 67 he is still performing and touring although his main interest is in writing music. His animated style of conducting has recently begun to change perceptions about the role of the conductor in serious music performance.
His personal interests outside of music are: literature, mathematics, modern philosophy, conceptual art, neo-surrealist painting, quantum physics, the harmonic series, and politics. All of which contribute to and influence the nature, content and structure of his music.
He is the inventor of The Harmonics Guitar and a theory of music based on the Harmonic Series as well as various tuning systems. He has designed and/or built many of the instruments used in a number of his pieces. He is also a founder of The No Wave Movement that started in downtown NYC during the late 70's that has now become, after many decades, an international movement in the underground music scene, extending as far as China and Japan.
His works for orchestra have been performed by 14 orchestras worldwide, notably: The London Sinfonietta conducted by Paul Daniel, The Orchestra Of St. Lukes conducted by David Alan Miller and The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Robertson.
He has worked with some of the most important artists of our time: Twyla Tharp, David Bowie, Peter Greenaway, Eiko and Koma, Eric Bogosian, Robert Longo, Laura Dean, Dan Graham, The Wooster Group, The Joffrey Ballet, The Alvin Ailey Company, Sonic Youth, The Kronos String Quartet, The Bang On A Can All-Stars, Crash Ensemble and many others.
Over his long career he has received more than 50 commissions from a wide variety of governments and organizations both public and private as well as having many of these works sponsored by other organizations in later performances and recordings. Even a small number of these generous and prestigious organizations are far too many to list here.
Since 2006 a revised version of his 100 guitar symphony in four movements has been performed in Rome (as part of Comtemporania 2008), London (as part of the Frieze Art Fair), Dublin (sponsored by Note Productions and the Dublin Docklands Authority), Belgium, LA (sponsored by the LA Philharmonic), New Jersey (Peak Performance Series at Montclair St. Univ.), Seattle (sponsored by the Seattle Art Museum) and St. Louis (sponsored by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra).
He has also received five major awards solely for Music Composition from: CAPS, NY 1983-84, The National Endowment for the Arts 1988-89, The DAAD Berlin fellowship 1988-89, The New York Foundation for the Arts 1998-99 and The Foundation for Contemporary Arts 2009-10.