Dave Brubeck on learning to play piano


Media is loading


SS: Dave and Iola, I want to start basically with Dave's early life in California, and asking about his experiences there. Dave, you grew up basically on cattle ranches in a cattle ranching family, both in Concord and Ione, California. How did you learn to play piano in such a rural setting like that?

DB: Well, being that my father was a cattleman, that was one different environment than my mother, who was a concert pianist. And, so I wanted to be like both of them for a while, which made it difficult. And, my mother had studied with Dame Myra Hess in England, and also Tobias Matthay, who was known to be one of the greatest teachers in the world. So, she passed on her knowledge to her three sons. That's how I learned to play, and I can't remember when I didn't play.

SS: Really? So, from you earliest memories, you were at the piano?

DB: Yeah.

SS: And, did she teach you in the form of formal lessons, or was it more of an informal situation where she was teaching you how to play?

DB: She taught in a formal way when I was a little older, maybe six or seven. But, when I was four, she just let me improvise, and then she'd write down some of my melodies, and encourage me that way.

Date Original


Resource Identifier


Rights Management

To view additional information on copyright and related rights of this item, such as to purchase copies of images and/or obtain permission to publish them, click here to view the Holt-Atherton Special Collections policies.


Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library in conjunction with the Experience Music Project