THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD
Hi! My name is Richard E Brown, but you can call me Rick. Nice to virtually meet you!
I come from a tiny village in New York's Adirondack Mountains where there was little opportunity for musical training. There wasn’t even a piano teacher, and beyond the little band at my school--as well as a book on basic harmony that my music teacher loaned me--I relied on my dad for guidance. Although he had no formal training in it, my dad had an amazing natural talent in music. He had perfect pitch, a wonderful singing voice, and also the uncanny ability to teach himself how to play just about any instrument! Unfortunately, he did not pass those genes along to me, but he did teach me a true love of music. He also instilled the incredible work ethic I would later need in order to make up for what I lacked in natural talent.
Despite this musical upbringing, it took me a while to realize just how impactful music would be in my life.
From early childhood I had an inexplicable drive towards creativity, first experimenting with painting and writing. I started drawing as soon as I was able to hold a pencil! This was soon followed by watercolors and pastels before I finally moved on to painting with oils.
Concurrently, I was testing the waters of writing. Even before I could write my name I would dictate little stories to my mom, who would write them down for me. I continued writing short stories and later on I even wrote a couple plays!
I was never happy with my results.
Eventually I realized that I had little aptitude for painting OR writing, and gradually drifted away from them.
Meanwhile, the love of music that my dad was passing on to me began to take root and grow. As soon as I was old enough, I began taking trumpet lessons at school and immediately loved playing in the band. At age 13 I finally came to realize music as an outlet for my creative drive, and soon after began composing. It didn’t take long for me to realize that composing would become my life's greatest passion! My long and winding road had finally brought me home.
My first efforts were very tentative and naive, but with the help of both my junior high and senior high school band directors, I made rapid progress.
Along the way I wrote four compositions for my high school band. The second of these became my very first public performance both as a composer and conductor, and for our senior class play I wrote a one-hour musical (including book and lyrics--I still had a little of the writer left in me!). It is safe to say that these experiences got me solidly hooked. By the time I was ready for college, I had firmly settled on music as a field of study and eventual career.
I was recruited to major in music at Central College in Iowa where I received my Bachelor’s degree in music education. After graduating I taught band at a small school in rural Iowa for a couple years. I then decided to further pursue my passion of composing, so I left to attend Florida State University where I earned two graduate degrees in composition.
If you’re interested in reading more details about my training and experience, click here to read my full curriculum vita!
After a few years of writing arrangements for marching bands and small stage productions, I established my career as a director of both high school and middle school bands. My true passion remained composition, and during those years of teaching I never stopped writing. I wrote a great many compositions and arrangements for my own students, as well as several commissions for other bands. I also found time to create a few large-scale works including two ballet scores, a one-act opera, and a full-length musical.
Although I did publish a few pieces with trade houses during my time as a band director, disseminating my work to a wider audience wasn't a high priority. Since I have retired from teaching I launched my own imprint, Dacker Music.
The name Dacker comes from the screen name I have used on hiking and photo-sharing websites (another one of my passions!), and is derived from my roots: as a native of the Adirondacks ("the Dacks"), I am by definition a "dacker."
My Dacker Music publications are available exclusively through the following online distributors:
J. W. Pepper (printed edition or download)
Sheet Music Plus (download only)
Score Exchange (download only)
ORDER MUSIC and DOWNLOAD MUSIC links in the annotated music catalog on this site will take you to pages on the JWP and SMP sites where you can preview and/or order the music. A smaller link below will take you to the Score Exchange page. A full recording can be heard at each of those links as well as on my catalog description. You can also follow the score while listening to the recording by following the link to my YouTube channel.
Follow this link to check out a list of nearly all my compositions.
Here is a blog post featuring a short interview with me to promote the release of my first commercial recording.
Here are three more interview blogs to promote later albums: my second, third, and seventh releases. Spoiler alert: some of the questions and the answers I give in these interviews are similar to each other, and I even quote some from this little autobiography.
When I am not working on a project or playing my french horn or trumpet, you can usually find me hiking or climbing in the Cascades with my wife Taehee. We live in Western Washington, where I am retired from my former “day job,” and she works an erratic schedule at a busy regional hospital. So we have an agreement: when she is at work, that's when I do my work, and when she is off, we head for the hills!
If you have any questions, comments, or would like to work together on a commission, please get in touch with me here!