Making L.A. music magic

For William Brueggemann, it all began when he started composing music in high school. Now, he has a career in the heart of the filmmaking world.

A UMD alumnus, Brueggemann took his love of music, and specifically the scores that accompany films and theatrical productions, to work alongside one of the greats in Los Angeles. Brueggemann now works for Mark Isham, a film composer.

“Mark is a legend,” says Brueggemann. Starting out as a trumpet player, Mark played with the likes of Joni Mitchell and Herbie Hancock, and won a Grammy before he even got into film. Since then, Isham has worked with notable directors, including Robert Redford and Robert Altman. Brueggemann feels fortunate to have been working with him since 2021.

Brueggeman reviewing a score at the piano.
Image: Brueggemann reviewing a score at the piano. Photo by @travisandersonphoto

Before then, while he was still in high school, Brueggemann shared his compositions with Dr. Justin Rubin, a professor of music at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). “I remember being so impressed by how quickly he looked through the scores,” said Brueggemann. “I could tell he was playing all the parts in his head.”

Brueggemann was accepted to the music theory and composition program. During his time at UMD, he composed a chamber opera, “Osseo, Son of the Evening Star,” and an original score for a UMD stage production of “Antigone.” That play was selected to perform at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region 5. In his senior year at UMD, he composed an orchestral anthem for the school.

As a graduate student in the Master of Fine Arts music composition for the screen program at Columbia College Chicago, Brueggemann took on projects scoring film and television. When it was time to do his final semester in Los Angeles, he was offered an internship with Mark Isham, which led to a job offer.

Brueggemann stays busy collaborating with Isham and taking in as much of the L.A. culture as time allows. He enjoys the music scene with his wife, Emma, who, as Brueggemann says, “is a brilliant musician in her own right.” Music events, film, and conversation continue to invigorate him.

Still, he hasn’t forgotten UMD and Duluth. In the summer of 2023, he was invited back to hear the world premiere of his composition, “Of Virtue and Loyalty,” performed by the Twin Ports Wind Orchestra, directed by UMD Professor Mark Whitlock.