Herbert Brün was born in Berlin, Germany in 1918. He left Germany in 1936 for Palestine, where he studied piano and composition at the Jerusalem Conservatory and then with Stefan Wolpe, Eli Friedman, and Frank Pelleg. He furthered his studies at Tanglewood and Columbia University from 1948 through 1950.
From 1955-61, in addition to composing, he conducted research concerning electro-acoustics with regard to possibilities for musical composition in Paris, Cologne, and Munich. During this period he also worked as composer and conductor of music for the theater, gave lectures and seminars emphasizing the function of music in society, and did a series of broadcasts on contemporary music.
After a lecture tour of the U.S. in 1962, Brün was invited by Lejaren Hiller to join the faculty of the University of Illinois. There Brün continued his work in the electronic studio and began research on composition with computers, which resulted in pieces for tape and instruments, tape alone, and graphics (some to be performed by interpreters). He collaborated with Heinz von Foerster on several interdisciplinary courses in heuristics and cybernetics at the Biological Computer Laboratory (1968-74). Throughout the 1970s, 8Os, and mid 90s, while remaining on the University of Illinois faculty (Professor Emeritus 1987), Brün held residencies and guest professorships around the world most notably at Ohio State University (1969. 70), the Hochschule der Kunst and Technische Universtat, Berlin (Summer 1978), and Gesamthochschule Kassel, 1989).
From 1980 on, he toured and taught with the Performers’ Workshop Ensemble, a group he founded. His awards and honours include an honorary doctorate from the University of Frankfurt, one prize from the International Society of Bassists, (1977), and the Norbert Wiener medal from the American Society for Cybernetics 1993. He helped found the School for Designing Society in 1993 and taught there through the year 2000. Brün wrote and spoke incisively on the social and political significance of composition and on the tendencies of language to preempt thought. He died in Urbana/Illinois, in 2000.