Rick Burkhardt studied music composition at Harvard University, the University of Illinois, and the University of California, San Diego, where he earned his Ph.D. in 2006.
He has received commissions, grants, and performances from organizations and performers such as the U.S.-Mexico Fund for Culture, the La Jolla Symphony, Ensemble Surplus, the Boswil Foundation, János Négyesy and Päivikki Nykter, Ensemble Ascolta, Red Fish Blue Fish, the NOISE quartet, the past(modern) duo, sfSound, Toca Loca, Mark Menzies, the Olympia Chamber Orchestra, the American Composers Forum, and Ensemble Chronophonie.
During the early 1990's, he toured the US, Germany, and Swtizerland performing new music and theater with the Performers' Workshop Ensemble.
In 1997, he began studying music with Chaya Czernowin and took classes in poetry from Rae Armantrout. He spent the following years inventing idiosyncratic methods for producing critical interactions of oddly integrated music and text.
His hobby, the satirical political cabaret duo the Prince Myshkins (with virtuoso guitarist, singer and lifelong collaborator Andy Gricevich), became a full-time job in 2002, once the "War on Terror" had provided an alarming overflow of material to satirize, and he began dividing his time between completing his studies and touring nationally, recording two CDs of his original political songs which have been covered and recorded by musicians across the US.
He is a founding member of the Nonsense Company, an experimental music / theater trio dedicated to new works and new venues. The Nonsense Company has performed in over 30 US cities, presenting new music and theater in unexpected combinations for a wide range of audiences. Their concert in Darmstadt in 2004 was hailed as "one of the most solid, free, and critical aesthetic propositions... of the festival." Their 2008 performance in NYC's Frigid Theater Festival was reviewed as "the must see show of the festival" and won Best Show and Audience Choice awards.
Along with Alec Duffy, Dave Malloy, and Rachel Chavkin, he received an Obie Award for creating the play "Three Pianos" at the Ontological-Hysteric Theater in 2010.
He lives in Brooklyn, NY.