A celebrated jazz pianist and composer, Dave Brubeck is living proof that originality and success can go
hand in hand. Even though critics who had favored Brubeck when he was less well known disliked him
after the success of the Dave Brubeck Quartet, he never compromised or altered his music in order to
gain a wider audience. From his popularity in playing college campuses with the Dave Brubeck Quartet
to touring America and Europe later in his career, Brubeck became a leading name in the jazz world
and is one of five jazz musicians who have been featured on the cover of Time magazine. His most
famous pieces, “Time Out,” ”Take Five,” ”Blue Rondo a la Turk” and “Three to Get Ready” are still
praised and performed today.
Born in Concord, California, on December 6, 1920, Brubeck was convinced early in life that he wanted
to be a cattle rancher like his father, Howard. He learned classical piano at the insistence of his mother
Elizabeth but did not learn to read sheet music until much later in life; instead, he memorized his
lessons so his teachers would not see his difficulty.
Brubek’s professors at the University of the Pacific convinced him to switch to a music major from
veterinary science, but Brubeck was nearly expelled when it was learned he could not read music.
Several of his teachers vouched for his skill in playing piano and his ear for harmony and Brubeck was
allowed to graduate on the condition that he would never teach piano. He graduated in 1942 and was
drafted into the army where he led a service band in General Patton’s army during World War II.