Multiple Emmy award winning composer, Grammy award winning producer, and noted guitarist Brian Keane has scored literally hundreds of films and television shows, and produced over 150 albums, mostly from his studio in the woods of Connecticut. His music has been hailed critically as "indelible and breathtaking" by the Los Angeles Times, "piercingly beautiful" by The New York Times and "masterful" by Newsweek, and he has been called a "musician's musician" by Downbeat, a "composer's composer" by The Hollywood Reporter, and “one of the most impressive musicians of the decade” by the editor of Billboard magazine.
Among Brian’s many enduring credits are “New York” the epic, multiple Emmy winning Burns documentary series that is among the biggest selling documentaries of all time, “Long Journey Home” which won a Grammy for it’s soundtrack in collaboration with The Chieftains, Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, Sinead O’Connor, and others, the classic “Winter’s Solstice” record series for Windham Hill which he produced, and his ground breaking ethnic recordings with middle eastern musician Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Irish musician Joanie Madden, and many others.
In a career that spans over four decades, Brian has been widely recognized as the foremost composer in documentary film, having scored the music to a huge number of Emmy, Peabody, and Oscar winning documentaries, for award winning film makers like Ric Burns, Thomas Lennon, Bill Moyers, Henry Hampton, Sheila Nevins, David Fanning, Judy Crichton, and Ross Greenburg to name a few. Brian started scoring documentaries in the early 1980's when few documentaries were scored by a composer, and his work has been hugely influential as a pioneer in that genre.
Born January 18th 1953 in Philadelphia to a musical family, Brian's mother Winifred Keane is an avant garde composer, and his father, George Keane, a gifted Irish tenor. Brian's brother Geoffrey and sister Sheila are musical as well. Brian played his first professional job as a rock n’ roll musician when he was still a sixth grader in Westport Connecticut where he grew up. He studied with educators George Weigle, Bob Genualdi, John Hanulik, and privately with the late John Mehegan, a Julliard professor who was a pioneer in jazz and music theory,and then with Czech composer Karel Husa at both Ithaca College, and Cornell.
Brian began his professional career as a guitarist playing in clubs and as a sideman, rising to become a world class jazz guitarist, performing with many of the Jazz greats of the 1970's and 1980's, including touring worldwide and recording for several years in a guitar duo with Larry Coryell, and eventually becoming a Blue Note recording artist.
In the mid 1970's, while primarily working as a guitarist, Brian began producing recordings at his childhood friend Gary Scovil's recording studio in Norwalk Connecticut. It was while working there in the late 1970's that he met husband and wife directors Jim Burroughs and Suzanne Bauman. In 1981 he would score his first documentary "A Cuban Odyssey" for them, which was nominated for an Academy Award. A few years later Brian scored the film Sulleyman the Magnificent, which was released as a soundtrack CD on German Publisher, Eckart Rahn's Celestial Harmonies label, and a series of recordings followed and led to Brian becoming a leading producer of ethnic music and new age recordings for a variety of major record labels. He would go on to become a Grammy-winning record producer, and one of the most successful producers of the nineties, producing more than three dozen Billboard charting recordings.
Award Winning Works
In 1988 Keane scored “Chimps: So like us” the Emmy winning and Academy Award nominated documentary that put Jane Goodall’s work in the public eye, for Oscar winning directors Kirk Simon and Karen Goodman. Their offices happened to be one floor down from acclaimed film maker Ric Burns, who, after producing the classic “Civil War” documentary with his brother Ken, went on to work with Brian on the 1990 award winning documentary “Coney Island”. Brian has scored every one of Ric Burns' award winning films since, spanning over two decades.
In the early 1990’s, Brian worked with ABC news in developing music for one of the early news documentary series “Turning Point”, and later for "Hopkins 24/7" and "NYPD 24/7". Keane helped pioneer a path for the musical approach to news documentaries which is still influential today.
Keane's other documentary credits include several films for Oscar winning director Thomas Lennon including the Peabody and Emmy winning "The Battle Over Citizen Kane", several classic sports documentaries such as "Do You Believe In Miracles?", "Curse of the Bambino", and "Nine Innings from Ground Zero", the multiple award winning films "The Donner Party", "The Way West", and "Andy Warhol", and his work on the multiple award winning PBS history series "The American Experience" . Keane is also noted for his work on other award winning PBS documentary series such as American Masters, Nova, and Frontline. He has also been a major composer in the sports world with his influential work scoring multiple Emmy and Peabody award winning television specials and series like HBO's "Sports of the 20th Century", "Inside the NFL", and "Legendary Nights", and his work for ESPN, CBS and others, working with Emmy winning sports documentarians like George Roy, Joe Lavine, Fritz Mitchell, Neil Leifer and others.
In his career, Brian has also scored several feature films and dramatic television shows including "Stephen King's Night Flier" for New Line Cinema, the award winning "General Motors Playwright's Theatre" series which ran for four years on A&E, and the critically acclaimed "Vernon Johns Story: the Road to Freedom" starring James Earl Jones, among many others. His music has been used in several major feature films including "Spy Games", "The Descendants", and "Free Willy", and his music has been performed by symphony orchestras throughout the world including the London Symphony, the Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Pops Orchestra, and the Colorado Symphony.
Recent credits include the dramatic television series "Copper" produced by Academy award winning director Barry Levinson and Emmy winning producer Tom Fontana, which debuted in 2012 as the highest rated show in the history of BBC America. Recently Brian has been nominated for a Prime Time Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music to Copper.
In all, Brian Keane is a Grammy winning producer with over three dozen Billboard charting albums, a four time Emmy winner among 20 nominations for music composition, he has scored hundreds of award winning documentaries and films (17 winning Emmys for best documentary or television series among 65 nominations), 9 Peabody winning films, and five Oscar nominated films including the 2006 Academy Award winning documentary "The Blood of Yingzhou District". In 2001, Brian became the first and only composer in the history of the Emmys to sweep all the nominations for music in a single year.
Brian Keane's studio is located in his first home in Monroe, Connecticut which he bought in 1985, and converted into a recording studio in 1993. Brian lived in Newtown, Connecticut from 1995 to 2010 and commuted to his first house in Monroe to work. Brian was married to Susan St. Louis Keane in 1987, though they lived together since 1983. They had their first son Wylder Keane in 1987, and second son Dylan Keane in 1988. In addition, Brian has a step son, Chris Laskowski, born to Susan in 1971. All three are musical, though they have other careers. Brian and Susan were divorced amicably in 2010. Although Brian toured throughout the world in his early career as a guitarist, most of Brian's composing career has taken place at his studio in the woods of Connecticut, near friends that he has known for over fifty years in some cases. In an era where most television and film production took place in New York or Los Angeles, Brian was able to develop his substantial career simply through the notoriety, and emotional power of his music.