TC Media Center from the Office of External Affairs

Section Navigation

Dave Brubeck: Teacher - Annual Report 2001

Although the dean of his conservatory threatened to not let him graduate because he couldn't read music, Dave Brubeck knew his love of jazz would help him to "get by." They did let him graduate on the condition that he wouldn't teach music, but Brubeck, 80, has managed to teach millions of people.

One of the students that Brubeck began teaching-unbeknownst to him-is Bert Konowitz, Adjunct Professor, Conductor and Artistic Director of Spirit, the resident Teachers College Improv Ensemble. Konowitz and many other musicians like him, started learning from Brubeck in the 1950s when they bought the red, vinyl record called "Jazz at Oberlin."

Under Konowitz's conducting and direction, Brubeck held a master class and concert at TC with two of his sons, Danny on trombone and bass and Chris on drums. Also performing with the trio were St. Joseph's Choir from Babylon; the Senior/Gospel Chorus from Eleanor Roosevelt Intermediate School 143M in Washington Heights, New York; and instrumentalists and chamber singers from Syosset High School in Syosset, New York.

At the performance, TC President Arthur Levine awarded Brubeck the TC Medal for Distinguished Service, which is presented to those whose work has contributed significantly to the field of education.

As a composer, Brubeck has also written and recorded works that include ballets, a musical, an oratorio, cantatas, solo piano pieces, works for jazz combo and orchestra. He has performed with the New York Philharmonic. He also was composer-performer in concerts of his choral compositions and as a soloist with orchestras. When Pope John Paul II visited the United States in 1987, Brubeck composed special music and participated in its performance at the Papal Mass in Candlestick Park, California.

Brubeck, whose work with Paul Desmond led to notoriety for their improvisational sound now known as "West Coast" or "Cool Jazz," was the first jazz artist featured on the cover of Time magazine. His quartet's first experiment in odd-metered rhythms, Time Out, that featured singles, "Take Five" and "Blue Rondo a la Turk" was the first album in modern jazz to "go gold."

previous page