Richard Peaslee was born in New York City and received his undergraduate degree in Music Composition from Yale University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. He received both a diploma and a Master of Science degree from The Juilliard School, in addition to studying privately with Nadia Boulanger in Paris and William Russo in New York and London. His concert works have been widely performed by orchestras, chamber ensembles and soloists, most notably the Philadelphia, Detroit, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, and Buffalo Symphony Orchestras. His concerto for trombone, Arrows of Time, was premiered by the Seattle Symphony.
In jazz, his numerous works for big band have been performed by William Russo's London Jazz Orchestra, the Chicago Jazz Ensemble, and the Stan Kenton and Ted Heath Orchestras and by soloists that include Gerry Mulligan (for whom he wrote Chicago Concerto).
Peaslee has written extensively for the theatre in New York, London and Paris. In addition to numerous scores for Broadway, Off-Broadway and regional theatres, he wrote the music for the Peter Brook/Royal Shakespeare Company production of The Marat/Sade, A Midsummers Night's Dream, US and Antony and Cleopatra; for Peter Hall and the National Theatre, he wrote the music for Animal Farm; and for Terry Hands and the RSC, Tamburlaine the Great. For Joseph Papp and the New York Shakespeare Festival he created scores for Richard III, Henry IV, Troilus and Cressida and Antigone; with Martha Clarke and Music Theatre Group, he wrote music for The Garden of Earthly Delights, Vienna Lusthaus, The Hunger Artist and also with Ms. Clarke for the Joseph Papp Production, Miracolo d'Amore. Among his Broadway credits are scores for Indians, Teibele and Her Demon, Frankenstein, and Boccaccio. His musicals for family audiences include The Snow Queen (NYS Theatre Institute), The Children's Crusade, Tanglewood Tales, and an opera, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Lincoln Center Institute, American Opera Projects commissions). He is currently completing Moby-Dick, a music theater work recently showcased in London.
In dance, Peaslee recently composed the score for Touch, commissioned and performed by the New York City Ballet with choreography by David Parsons, and The Four Humours, commissioned and performed by Pilobolus. His music for Elisa Monte's Feu Follet, A Cajun Tale has toured Europe and America. Peaslee has also worked with choreographers Twyla Tharp, Lar Lubovitch, Kathryn Posin, Grethe Holby and Elizabeth Keen.
His scores for film and television include the Joseph Campbell/Bill Moyer series The Power of Myth (nominated for an Emmy), Claudia Shear's Blown Sideways Through Life (American Playhouse) and Time/Life's Wild, Wild World of Animals.
Awards include The National Academy of Arts and Letters Marc Blitzstein Award; Obie and Villager Awards; as well as NEA and NYFA Fellowships.
Peaslee has served on the faculty of the Lincoln Center Institute and New York University's Music Theatre Program. A retrospective of his career was presented by Lincoln Center's Composers' Showcase at Alice Tully Hall. Richard Peaslee's music is published by Margun Music, a division of Associated Music Publishers, and has been recorded on EMI, Columbia, Elektra, and Musical Heritage Society, among others.