Awarded: October 2003
(b. Dec. 6, 1920)
Jazz legend Dave Brubeck is equally distinguished as composer and pianist. Studies at the College of the Pacific and Mills College led to the founding of the experimental Jazz Workshop Ensemble, which recorded in 1949 as the Dave Brubeck Octet. Later, Brubeck achieved an overwhelming popular success as the Dave Brubeck Quartet. The Quartet's experimentation with time signatures unusual to jazz produced works like “Blue Rondo a la Turk” and “Take Five,” introducing millions of enthusiastic young listeners to unexplored regions of jazz. As composer, Brubeck has written and recorded several large-scale works including two ballets, a musical, an oratorio, four cantatas, a mass, works for jazz combo and orchestra, and many solo piano pieces. In the last 20 years, he has organized several new quartets and continued to appear at the Newport, Monterey, Concord and Kool Jazz Festivals. Brubeck performed at the White House in 1964 and 1981 and at the 1988 Moscow summit honoring the Gorbachevs. He is the recipient of four honorary degrees, the BMI Jazz Pioneer Award and the 1988 American Eagle Award presented by the National Music Council.