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Long before Take Five hit the million mark, in 1959, Dave Brubeck had established himself as an ambassador of jazz. Now [2006] 85, the pianist and composer, who has written more than one hundred classical works, has hardly slackened, still playing eighty nights a year. Here, he reflects on Dostoyevsky, stride piano, and procrastination.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
All commitments fulfilled.

What is your greatest fear?

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Self-confidence, when it morphs into a know-it-all attitude.

On what occasion do you lie?
To avoid hurting someone, or when I forget the truth.

What do you dislike most about your appearance?
My nose.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“Write that down” or “groovy.”

What is your greatest regret?
That more people have not heard my composition Regret, recorded by the London Symphony.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
The what is music, the who are my wife and family.

When and where were you happiest?
May 8, 1945, Regensburg, Germany, the end of World War II in Europe.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
A more retentive mind.

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
For each to be fulfilled.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
A piano.

If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be?
Johann Sebastian Bach.

What is your most treasured possession?

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

What is it that you most dislike?
The suffering of innocents.

Who are your favorite writers?
Dostoyevsky, Thomas Mann, and Mark Twain.

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Huckleberry Finn.

Who are your heroes in real life?
John Paul II, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Darius Milhaud.

What are your favorite names?
The names we gave our children: Darius (after Darius Milhaud), Michael, Christopher, Catherine, Daniel, and Matthew.

How would you like to die?
Playing stride piano.

What is your motto?
“Hang in and hang on.”

Proust Questionnaire – Vanity Fair

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