“To dissolve is to live with an open and strong heart, to give everything we have while accepting the transience of all things, to let go of things that don’t resonate with our true nature.… to embrace as much of reality as we can comprehend, always choosing love over power, and honoring those who have inspired us.”
Whether making music, running a groundbreaking investment firm, or designing world-class crossword puzzles, Pete Muller is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence. With his fourth album, Dissolve, this fascinating polymath takes his strongest step yet, blending his jazz training with his love of classic songwriting for a set of honest, moving compositions.
Produced by Emmy-winning, Grammy-nominated Rob Mathes (Sting, Rod Stewart, Carly Simon), Dissolve captures the emotional insights and singular perspective forged by Muller’s journey, which has taken him from the peaks of the financial industry to performance stages around the world.
Born in Wayne, New Jersey, he was inspired by the example of his mother, who served as the only doctor in a small town in Brazil (“She had a huge influence on my work ethic and my desire to help people,” he says). He grew up playing jazz piano and studying math, and after graduating from Princeton, moved to Northern California to play music for a rhythmic gymnastics team.
Shortly thereafter, Muller began work at BARRA, a pioneering research firm that catered to quantitative financial firms. In 1992, he joined Morgan Stanley in New York as a proprietary trader, to see if he could use math and computers for his own trading. He called his group Process Driven Trading, or PDT; as Forbes magazine explained, they used “complex math and computer-automated algorithmic models to buy and sell stocks, futures and currencies based on statistical correlations and aberrations that can be found in the market.”
But eventually, Muller was drawn back to his music. He knew that great songwriting required a deeper commitment, so he stepped away from his finance work and assembled a group of songwriters who met every week for years to workshop material. “Having a group that was mutually supportive but appropriately critical was a great inspiration,” he says. He recorded two albums—Just One Lifetime (2002) and More Than This (2004)—and even played his keyboard in New York City subway stations.
After marrying his wife, Jillian, in 2005, he returned his focus to PDT’s fund, which spun out as an independent business in 2012 and eventually grew to become one of the most respected quantitative investment funds in the world. Muller then released his third album, Two Truths and a Lie, which was produced by his dear friend and mentor Rick DePofi (Rosanne Cash, Marc Cohn, Shawn Colvin).
A champion for music education, in 2017 he spearheaded the acquisition of New York’s world-renowned Avatar Studios (also known as the Power Station) by the Berklee College of Music, where he serves as a trustee; plans are underway to open Two Truths, a production company to help develop young musicians, in part of the studio space. Muller’s crossword puzzles have been published in the New York Times and are now carried monthly by the Washington Post. Muller has also made the final table at the World Series of Poker. He practices vinyasa yoga and is a dedicated surfer, in addition to raising his two children.
Dissolve represents Pete Muller’s most sincere effort to tell the inspirational and deeply emotional stories gathered in an incomparable lifetime. “I want to create something that I love,” he says, “that I think accurately conveys the emotions that form the songs and touches as many people as possible.”