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About Dave Brubeck

A jazz pianist noted for his improvisational skills, Dave Brubeck was also a composer of many fully notated compositions. These include choral pieces, hymns, orchestral works, chamber music, ballet suites, a string quartet, solo pieces for piano, violin and voice, and large-scale works for chorus and orchestra.

Among other achievements, he is known for the legendary song “Take Five” and the album “Time Out” which was the first jazz album to sell over a million copies. Aside from his ground-breaking musical compositions and recordings, he played a major role in breaking racial barriers in the mid 20th-century.

His mass To Hope! has been performed in Germany, Austria, Russia and throughout the English-speaking world. To Hope! was recorded by the Cathedral Choral Society at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC in 1995. Pange Lingua Variations and oratorios The Voice of the Holy Spirit and Beloved Son have been recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra and London Voices.

Brubeck received a bachelor of music degree from College of the Pacific in 1942, and in 1946, following his Army service in World War II, studied with French composer, Darius Milhaud at Mills College in Oakland, California. Milhaud encouraged him to use the languages of jazz as well as classical music in his compositions. His first orchestral piece, Elementals (1962) serves as the inspiration for the Lar Lubovitch ballet Elemental Brubeck; currently performed by the San Francisco Ballet and other dance companies.

Throughout his long career as both a performing artist and composer, Brubeck received many honors in America and abroad. President Clinton awarded him with the Presidential Medal of the Arts and a similar arts medal was presented to him by Austria. He has a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for his jazz contribution, and in 2007 honored by the London Symphony Orchestra with a lifetime achievement award. In 2003 he was elected into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame. He has been designated a "Living Legend" by the Library of Congress and a "Jazz Master" by the National Endowment for the Arts.

He held fifteen honorary degrees from U.S. universities and has been honored by universities in Canada, England and Germany. In recognition of his liturgical music he received an honorary degree in sacred theology from Fribourg University of Switzerland. In 2006 he was awarded the Laetare Medal by the University of Notre Dame and in 2007 the Arison award from the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts. He served as chairman of the Brubeck Institute at University of the Pacific, Stockton, California.

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