Emmanuel Sinderbrand (Manny to his friends), is a concert pianist and composer of serious music that has been played by many different professional musicians. As a pianist, he has premiered works by many other well-known composers such as Aaron Copland, David Diamond, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Lukas Foss, and others. He is also a photographer, computer systems analyst and consultant to a variety of businesses, having owned a commercial photography and graphics studio specializing in advertising and packaging. Yet the different interests are all related and complementary. These varied fields are the logical outgrowth of long years of musical training, teaching mathematics, and working as a programmer and system developer for IBM.

Early life and education

Sinderbrand’s diverse pursuits are a reflection of his Renaissance nature, an interest in a range of subjects and disciplines. They are also a product of an unusual education. Sinderbrand was a musical prodigy, beginning his serious musical studies at age seven and making his concert debut at the age of ten. Years of study with a long string of well-known piano teachers ensued. But when it came time to go to college, the scholarship offers were for science, so he enrolled as a science major at Brandeis University. However, due to encouragement from some faculty members, he soon switched to a music curriculum, graduating with Honors.

Business career

During graduate school, while studying and teaching music, Sinderbrand opened a photography studio and took many publicity photos of musicians such as pianist Leo Smit and the Budapest String Quartet. His photography, he pointed out, complemented his music composition.

After moving to New York, Sinderbrand worked as a consultant to typographers who were just getting started working with the new computer technologies. Seeing a possible business opportunity, he created “Acorn Technologies,” a company devoted to teaching art directors and their personnel how to produce professional results with in-house computers. Soon, the company expanded into the area of computerized accounting, which it handled until Sinderbrand retired at 75.

Return to composing

With many ideas for new pieces, Sinderbrand decided to begin composing once again using some of the new computer-based applications to produce full chamber music and orchestral scores.

“A creative artist,” he said, “often finds his work pleases only himself or a relatively small audience.” This, he added, usually leaves the artist frustrated, feeling as if he or she is functioning in a vacuum. But the work in advertising is passed on to a presumably appreciative “mass audience.”

Some contemporary pieces are admittedly not for a mass audience. But Sinderbrand composes in many different styles, some with a contemporary “intellectual” feeling and others, like his recent Piano Concerto, a “lyrical” piece that features many “tunes” and melodies that he hopes people will be humming when the piece is over.

In addition to music, Sinderbrand paints, enjoys cooking, learns new computer languages, reads history books, and loves to travel (he spent 35 years going to France for a month every year and recently to Mexico and Spain.) And he still manages to find time for his partner and accomplished singer, Jacqueline Jones.

Although music composition and playing the piano may be at the center of all the things he does and loves, it is doubtful he would give up his other activities. He would probably be uncomfortable doing just the one thing he likes the most.

Adapted from an article in The Philadelphia Inquirer by Albert Haas