Perry Goldstein heads the Stony Brook Music Department. (PHOTO CREDIT: STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY)
Perry Goldstein heads the Stony Brook Music Department. (PHOTO CREDIT: STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY)

Perry Goldstein, a professor at Stony Brook, believes the university’s music department is a force to be reckoned with.

“We’re a scrappy school competing with the best places in music with a state university budget,” he said.

Goldstein attended the University of Illinois and earned a Bachelor and Master’s degree in Music Composition. He then received his doctorate at Columbia University in 1986 and began teaching at Stony Brook in 1992.

For the last two years, Goldstein has been the chairman of the Music Department.


He was also the Undergraduate Studies Director for eight years, the Graduate Program Director for three years and was the inaugural  director of the College Arts, Culture and Humanities.

“I’ve always felt music was the central part of my life, ” he said.

Goldstein says he’s always had a passion for music and is glad he has the opportunity to compose, as well as teach something he loves dearly. From an early age he composed music and even wrote for his high school jazz band.

He said teaching at Stony Brook has been a wonderful experience and that he has enjoyed working with such a talented faculty and group of students.


“It’s really a remarkably and supportive place, unlike a lot of other musical institutions where the faculty might be competitive with each other,” Goldstein said.

Because he can compose music and teach, Goldstein says Stony Brook is “an ideal place” for him to work.

“I don’t want to be anywhere but here. Rarely does a day go by that I’m not grateful I’m here,” he said.

One of the many reasons why the music department is so great, according to Goldstein, is because of the faculty. Despite not having top-of-the-line equipment, he believes there is a lot of support for the department, which helps with the success.

“We’re a David among Goliaths,” he said.


Goldstein also said another reason the music department is doing so well is because of the support from the administration.

“As much as a reputation Stony Brook has for strong sciences, no university can be truly great without having a strong arts and humanities program as well,” Goldstein said. “It’s not the case that this is just a science school anymore.”

He also emphasized that all student’s at Stony Brook can be part of the music department, one way or another. There are many classes for non-majors and student’s can take lessons as well.

“Every person should have the opportunity to pursue that in which they feel passionate about,” he said.

Goldstein says that he has grown as a composer over the years and now focuses more on what he wants to say, rather than follow typical academia standards.

“I want my music to represent the values I have as person and to be human, not to be to formal not to be too abstract,” he said. “It’s very liberating, purified existence now as a composer to be able to figure out what’s important to me and what I want to say.”


His advice to a music student, or anyone in general, is to do something they love “with the hope and expectation that you’ll make it work.”

“I’ve come to the conclusion as a composer you have to write music that delights you,” he said. “Don’t worry about acceptance from others.”


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