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William Brooks studied music and mathematics at Wesleyan University (BA 1965), then received degrees in musicology (MM 1971) and composition-theory (DMA 1976) from the University of Illinois. Among his teachers were Charles Hamm in musicology and Ben Johnston, Kenneth Gaburo and Herbert Brün. He has been associated with John Cage as both performer and scholar; he played in the world premiere of HPSCHD and has several times directed productions of Cage’s Song Books. Brooks taught at the University of Illinois (1969-73) and at the University of California (1973-7), then worked as a freelance composer, scholar and performer before returning to the University of Illinois (1987). There he was Associate Professor of Composition, director of the Contemporary Chamber Singers, and Chair of the Composition-Theory Division for many years. In 2000 he took up his present post at the University of York.
Since 2009, Brooks has been a Senior Research Fellow at the Orpheus Research Centre in Music, Ghent, Belgium, where he also serves as chair of the Editorial Board.
He is a member of the American Musicological Society, of the Society for Composers, Inc., and of the Society for American Music, where he serves on the editorial board.
His music is published by Frog Peak Music.