Matthew Pierce was born in Brooklyn on July 24, 1968, into a family rich in artistic talent. His father, Michael, a painter, and his mother, Catherine, a sculptor, now based in Seattle, gave Matthew his start in the music world in 1976 with formal violin training, and also instilled in him an appreciation for the regional bluegrass and American folk music of his father's Tennessee roots. Matthew's great grandfather, Johnny Pierce, a soybean and corn farmer, toured depression era Appalachia with his banjo.
Pierce moved to New York in 1992 after completing his Masters of Music at The Peabody Conservatory. He abandoned the classical violin performance avenue he initially sought and became a prominent member of the downtown Off-Broadway theater scene. As resident composer of HERE Theater he won a Meet the Composer grant, wrote many incidental and dance scores and performed a selection from his opera, The Cry Pitch Carrolls at the 1999 Village Voice Obie Awards.
Early exposure to the ballet world (his brother Benjamin is a former principal dancer with the San Francisco Ballet) developed in Pierce a special passion for the music of dance. He has written ballet scores for Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theater, Atlanta Ballet, Ohio Ballet, Ballet Met, Cincinnati Ballet, Miami Ballet, Ballet Memphis, Ballet Hawaii, Post Ballet, Ballet Coeur d'Alene, Kansas City Ballet, New York City Ballet, Houston Ballet and the San Francisco Ballet. Night, a full orchestra score set to a Chagall inspired dreamscape ballet has been seen at the Opera Garnier in Paris, Covent Garden in London and City Center in New York. San Francisco Ballet's Imaginal Disc was voted "Best Cultural Event of 2003" by the San Francisco Chronicle and Sarah Kaufman of the Washington Post called his 2012 score for Washington Ballet's Alice (in wonderland), "The cherry on top: Pierce’s visionary result, a shimmering landscape that weaves together bits of our own world — Asian, Middle Eastern, pop riffs, jazz — with a contemporary edge and a spirit of discovery. And, yes, wonder."
John Schaefer has featured Pierce's work with the guitarist Byron Estep in their new music duo The Unsung String Duo on the National Public Radio show "New Sounds." He has also performed on recordings by pop artists Jewel, Sheryl Crow and Suzanne Vega and on Philip Glass' score, Kundun. Pierce is a professor of violin and viola and the orchestra director at Five Towns College and a conductor with the Gemini Youth Orchestras. His home and studio are in East Northport, NY.