Born: December 5th, 1943
Died: May 2nd, 2012
Country of origin: United States of America
Bruce MacCombie was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1943. Self-taught in popular music, he played in various commercial bands, and in the early 1960’s he moved to Western Massachusetts and joined classmate Henry Fredericks, Jr. (aka Taj Mahal) as pianist in the blues band Taj Mahal and the Elektras. The group toured extensively on the East Coast until the mid-1960’s.
MacCombie first studied composition with Philip Bezanson at the University of Massachusetts, where he earned a B.A. in 1967 and an M.M in 1968. He also studied with Wolfgang Fortner at the Freiburg Conservatory and holds a Ph.D. in music from the University of Iowa. In 1975, after four years in Europe, he was appointed to the Music Theory faculty at Yale University and one year later was appointed to the Composition faculty at the Yale School of Music. While at Yale he coordinated an annual series of new music concerts and taught various seminars relating to 20th Century music literature.
In 1979, MacCombie was awarded one of the first Goddard Lieberson Fellowships by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. During the 1979 – 80 season, various works were presented by Composers Forum in New York, where Bernard Holland, writing in the New York Times, referred to MacCombie as “a deft and evocative craftsman.” Since then, his works have been commissioned by organizations such as the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Seattle Symphony, the 20th Century Consort, the Jerome Foundation, and the International Guitar Foundation. Performances have been given at Carnegie Hall, the Seattle Opera House, the Kennedy Center, the Warsaw Autumn Festival, the Hong Kong Arts Festival, Alice Tully Hall, the Hirshhorn Museum, the Royal Academy of Music, and other venues and festivals throughout the U.S. and Europe.
From 1980 to 1986 MacCombie served as Director of Publications for G.Schirmer and Associated Music Publishers, from 1986 to 1992 as Dean of The Juilliard School, from 1992 to 2001 as Dean of the School for the Arts at Boston University, and from 2002 as Professor of Music and Associate Dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he has also been awarded an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts.
Recent works include Samsara Rounds, debuted by the Juilliard Orchestra and James DePreist in January, 2010 and Light Upon the Turning Leaf, premiered and commissioned by the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival in the summer of 2010.
In Spring, 2010, MacCombie was honored by the Yale School of Music with a Cultural Leadership Award for his distinguished accomplishments as a composer, administrator, and teacher, including his years of teaching at Yale from 1975 to 1980. Since 2010 MacCombie has been Professor Emeritus of Music at the University of Massachusetts and he lives in Amherst with his wife, painter Turi MacCombie.