Dave Brubeck on being both a pianist and composer


SS: Dave, you've described yourself as both a pianist who composes as well as a composer who plays piano. Has your identity tended more towards one or the other at different stages of your career?

DB: It's usually what is coming up next in my commitments. If I have something to do like last year when I was here, we got a call from the Monterey Jazz Festival to do an opera on Cannery Row, the John Steinbeck great, wonderful story novel.

And, so I went into composing for two weeks solid, and got the main themes done. And then, after we left here and went on the road, Iola and I did a lot of polishing. But, in that period, I wouldn't play the piano much. I was writing. And then when I go on the road, I go into the piano playing that I do almost consecutive nights or travel and then play, but there's no time to do composition like I'd like, although I do write on the airplanes or buses, or whatever we're on.

SS: So, when you have a major piece that you're composing, you usually take a chunk of time out of your touring schedule to focus on that? Or does it vary?

DB: I wish it would work that way. I've got to combine and use what time I can wherever I am, and hopefully if it's a big assignment, have some time at home.

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