Tom Brier - Ragtime Pianist and Composer

Tom Brier

Tom Brier (October 3, 1971, in Oakdale, California, USA) is an American ragtime pianist and composer.

Table of Contents

  1. Childhood and Youth
  2. Musical Career
  3. Accident
  4. Recordings
  5. References

Childhood and Youth

Tom Brier was born on October 3, 1971, in Oakdale, California, in the farming community of Great Central Valley, south of Sacramento. Brier was four years old when his parents bought him a piano. At the age of five, Brier began taking lessons under the guidance of a local teacher.

After high school, Brier studied computer science at Turlock State University in Turlock, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1993. Since then, he has worked as a programmer and designer for the county in Sacramento. In addition to his work, he has composed piano pieces and performed at various music events.

Musical Career

In 1985, Brier caught the attention of Larry Applegate, President of the Sacramento Ragtag Association. Brier was invited to association meetings and had the opportunity to perform there. Brier’s interpretations of the often described as aggressive classics of ragtime music garnered public attention. He was particularly recognized for his deep knowledge of the various genres of early ragtime music.

Brier primarily performed at music events dedicated to ragtime music on the West Coast of the USA. For example, he first performed at the West Coast Ragtime Festival in 1989. He has given concerts in various locations, including Sedalia, Columbia, Missouri, Phoenix, Arizona, and Indianapolis.

At the age of 11 in 1982, Brier composed his first ragtime piece, “Pine Cone Rag”. By 2006, he had composed more than 150 compositions. Since then, his production has exceeded 200 compositions. Approximately 100 of them are ragtime songs. Brier’s production spans a wide range of different subgenres of ragtime music and closely related musical styles, including classic ragtime, stride piano, foxtrot, and novelty piano. He has also collaborated with many ragtime composers, including Eric Marchese, Neil Blaze, Gil Lieberknecht, and Kathi Backus.


According to relatives, on August 6, 2016, Brier was involved in a car accident in which a truck rear-ended his car and pushed it into another vehicle. He was in a coma for two and a half months and later spent four years in a nursing home, where he received such good care that he can now be cared for by his family.


Tom Brier has released eight albums, one of them with Nan Bostick.

  1. Rising Star (1994)
  2. Generic (1997)
  3. Pianola (2000)
  4. Dueling at the McCoys (2002) – piano duets with Nan Bostick
  5. Skeletons (2003)
  6. Rewind (2006)
  7. Blue Sahara (2009)
  8. Constellations (2012)