Top 37 Quotes of Dave Brubeck

When you start out with goals – mine were to play polytonally and polyrhythmically – you never exhaust that. I started doing that in the 1940s. It’s still a challenge to discover what can be done with just those two elements.

Dave Brubeck

When you hear Bach or Mozart, you hear perfection. Remember that Bach, Mozart and Beethoven were great improvisers. I can hear that in their music.

Dave Brubeck

When I was first aware that I couldn’t read music I didn’t know I couldn’t read because I could play the music that was in front of me.

Dave Brubeck

When I was 20, Shostakovich was my favorite composer. I still find his Fifth Symphony wonderful, with its outstanding themes and rhythms. That’s the piece that made me want to be a classical composer.

Dave Brubeck

What I want to happen is to be really creative, and to play something new in the improvisations, every time.

Dave Brubeck

We don’t know the power that’s within our own bodies.

Dave Brubeck

There’s a way of playing safe, there’s a way of using tricks and there’s the way I like to play which is dangerously where you’re going to take a chance on making mistakes in order to create something you haven’t created before.

Dave Brubeck

The worst thing about the life of a jazz musician on the road is getting to the gig. Once you’re there and playing, it’s marvelous.

Dave Brubeck

The first choral music I remember hearing was Handel’s ‘Messiah’ when the Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast it over the radio.

Dave Brubeck

That’s the beauty of music. You can take a theme from a Bach sacred chorale and improvise. It doesn’t make any difference where the theme comes from; the treatment of it can be jazz.

Dave Brubeck

My own Brubeck Institute in California is turning out fantastic young jazz players, and I know great things will happen.

Dave Brubeck

My mother Elizabeth Ivey Brubeck was a pianist who studied with Dame Myra Hess and Tobias Matthey. As a child in California I used to listen to her play Chopin.

Dave Brubeck

My dad was the manager at the 45,000-acre ranch, but he owned his own 1,200-acre ranch, and I owned four cattle that he gave to me when I graduated from grammar school, from the eighth grade. And those cows multiplied, and he kept track of them for years for me. And that was my herd.

Dave Brubeck

Many people don’t understand how disciplined you have to be to play jazz… And that is really the idea of democracy – freedom within the Constitution or discipline. You don’t just get out there and do anything you want.

Dave Brubeck

Jazz stands for freedom. It’s supposed to be the voice of freedom: Get out there and improvise, and take chances, and don’t be a perfectionist – leave that to the classical musicians.

Dave Brubeck

Jazz isn’t dead yet. It’s the underpinning of everything in this country. Whether it’s a Broadway show, or fusion, or right on through classical music, if it’s coming out of the U.S., it’s not going to survive unless it’s got some jazz influence.

Dave Brubeck

Jazz is about freedom within discipline. Usually a dictatorship like in Russia and Germany will prevent jazz from being played because it just seemed to represent freedom, democracy and the United States.

Dave Brubeck

It’s like a whole orchestra, the piano for me. And also it’s to me the greatest instrument. I shouldn’t say that, but I believe that this is the only instrument I can really feel happy about playing.

Dave Brubeck

It’s like a whole orchestra, the piano for me.

Dave Brubeck

I’m beginning to understand myself. But it would have been great to be able to understand myself when I was 20 rather than when I was 82.

Dave Brubeck

I’m always hoping for the nights that are inspired where you almost have an out of body experience.

Dave Brubeck

If there’s a deadline, I work late. If not, I like to have normal hours, and get up early and work. When things are going well, I hate to quit. And then I’ll work ’till exhausted.

Dave Brubeck

If I told you all the people that have secretly told me I’ve influenced them, you’d never believe it, and you’ll never see it in print, either.

Dave Brubeck

I was always very aware of drummers. My oldest brother Henry was a drummer, and he drummed on everything in the house from the kitchen sink to stovepipes. He was the first drummer in the Gil Evans Orchestra, so you’ve got to know how great he was.

Dave Brubeck

I wanted to be like my father, who was a cattle man and a rodeo roper. And that was – he was my hero, and I wanted to be more like him.

Dave Brubeck

I used to take my mother to Yosemite. When I turned 14, I got my driver’s license, and that’s where she’d want to go, so I’d go take her there for two weeks.

Dave Brubeck

I started growing up in a hurry and taking a lot of the philosophy I’d heard from church as a kid a lot more seriously – especially the Ten Commandments – and wondering how ‘Thou shalt not kill’ could be so absolutely ignored. It took me until I was in my 40s to write what I was thinking as a young soldier.

Dave Brubeck

I played a lot of sports and it’s the plays in basketball that weren’t worked out that are the ones that are just fantastic that you remember. We don’t know the power that’s within our own bodies.

Dave Brubeck

I knew I wanted to write on religious themes when I was a GI in World War II. I saw and experienced so much violence that I thought I could express my outrage best with music.

Dave Brubeck

I knew even if I’m a cowboy, I’m going to be involved in jazz in some way.

Dave Brubeck

I have more energy at the end than I do at the beginning. You can be so beat up that you can scarcely walk on stage but when you get to the piano the excitement kicks in, you forget about being tired.

Dave Brubeck

I had the first integrated Army band in World War II.

Dave Brubeck

I got a poster from Columbia Records, and there’s Miles Davis, Charlie Mingus, Ellington, Count Basie – everybody in that poster has died, I’m the only one left. And great players like Paul Desmond and Gerry Mulligan, it’s hard to believe they’re gone because we were all so close. But I believe in the future and the tradition will go on.

Dave Brubeck

Do you think Duke Ellington didn’t listen to Debussy? Louis Armstrong loved opera, did you know that? Name me a jazz pianist who wasn’t influenced by European music!

Dave Brubeck

Concord, California was a great place to grow up.

Dave Brubeck

And there is a time where you can be beyond yourself. You can be better than your technique. You can be better than most of your usual ideas. And this is a whole other category that you can get into.

Dave Brubeck

After the Second World War, I returned to California to study composition with Darius Milhaud, who wrote wonderful works like ‘Le Boeuf sur le Toit’ and ‘La Cretion du Monde.’ I especially enjoy his work for two pianos, ‘Scaramouche.’

Dave Brubeck