P I A N O   3 0 0
Celebrating Three Centuries of People and Pianos


Piano Grand!
A Smithsonian Celebration

Photo of Brubeck by Robert Smith

Dave Brubeck

Named Jazz Master by the National Endowment of the Arts in 1999, this pioneer in combining jazz with symphony orchestras nearly became a pioneer of the plains. Born in 1920, the youngest of three musical sons, Brubeck intended to follow his father's career as a rancher and cowboy. His mother, a piano teacher, insisted on a college education for her son who at one time declared his course of study in Veterinary Science. Fortunately, for the jazz world, he changed his major to music. A World War II veteran, Brubeck has become a legendary figure in contemporary jazz. Brubeck has appeared as composer-performer with most major orchestras in the United States and with prestigious choral groups performing his compositions. His 1959 performance with the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Leonard Bernstein was a milestone in his career. That evening, he performed Dialogues for Jazz Combo and Orchestra - a piece composed by Dave's brother, Howard. The Dave Brubeck Quartet toured with jazz legends such as Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Dizzie Gillespie and Stan Getz. Recently, Brubeck received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for his musical contributions as both pianist and composer over the last 50 years. He remains active as a composer and is a leading figure in the jazz mainstream, recording and touring internationally with today's version of The Dave Brubeck Quartet.

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Piano 300
American History
National Museum of American History