Benjamin Brinner is Chair of the Department of Music at the University of California at Berkeley, where he currently holds the Henry and Julia Weisman Schutt Chair in Music. He has taught ethnomusicology courses and co-directed UC Berkeley's Gamelan Sari Raras since 1989. He has also taught at Tel Aviv University, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and the Jerusalem Music Center, as well as Colorado College. He earned the PhD and MA degrees in the ethnomusicology program at UC Berkeley (1985 and 1979) after completing a BA in musicology at the Hebrew University (1977).
Brinner is interested in issues of musical cognition, particularly questions of musical memory and how musicians know what they know and how that influences their interactions with one another in performance. He has conducted research in Indonesia (Central Java and Bali) and Israel, with the support of two Fulbright fellowships and various research grants from the University of California. In addition to articles in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicans and in journals such as Ethnomusicology, Asian Music, and the Journal of the American Musicological Society, he has written three books. The first, Knowing Music, Making Music: Javanese Gamelan and the Theory of Musical Competence and Interaction (University of Chicago Press, 1995), won ASCAP’s Deems Taylor Award in 1996. This was followed by a textbook, Music in Central Java, for Oxford University Press’s Global Music series. The most recent book, Playing Across a Divide: Musical Encounters in a Contested Land on musical collaborations between Jews and Arabs in Israel (Oxford University Press, 2010), was awarded the 2010 Alan P. Merriam Alan P. Merriam Prize for Outstanding Book in Ethnomusicology by the Society for Ethnomusicology.