December 6, 1920

David Warren Brubeck was born to Howard “Pete” Brubeck and Elizabeth (Ivey) Brubeck in Concord, California. Dave’s mother was a classical piano teacher. Dave began playing piano in local bands while in high school. Dave’s father was an accomplished cowboy. (Photo: Dave, 12-months old, with his mother)


Brubeck family moved to a 45,000-acre cattle ranch, Ione, CA.
(Photo: Dave playing guitar with some friends, 1933)


Dave enrolled in the College of the Pacific as a veterinary sciences student; on the advice of the head of zoology, Dr. Arnold, Dave switched his major to the Conservatory of Music.
(Photo: Dave on his family’s ranch near Ione, CA, 1938)


While walking into Faye Spanos Concert Hall at University of the Pacific, Dave met Iola Whitlock, with whom he spent the rest of his life in musical and marital partnership. (Photo: This plaque is located in Faye Spanos Concert Hall and it commemorates where Iola Whitlock and Dave Brubeck first met.)



Dave enlisted in the Army in the Summer of 1942.
(Photo: Dave BrubecK in Army. Camp Haan, Riverside CA, 1944)

September 21, 1942

Dave married his college sweetheart, Iola Whitlock. The pair met at the College of the Pacific where Iola studied drama and radio production. She co-directed a weekly campus radio program called “The Friday Frolics”, on which Dave and a small band contributed the music. At the time, Dave frequently pounded his foot to the beat. Iola asked him to remove his shoes, because the pounding upset the audio balance. The only thing Dave could think to say in response was, “I’ve been thrown out of better places than this.” (Photo: Iola (Whitlock) and Dave Brubeck, 1942)


Dave’s Army unit shipped out and landed in Europe after D-Day. While in Europe he led the first racially integrated military jazz band, The Wolfpack Band. Dave was discharged from the Army in 1946. (Photo:Wolfpack, 1945)


After being discharged from the Army, Dave enrolled at Mills College, Oakland, California, where he studied composition with Darius Milhaud, on the G.I. Bill. (Photo: Dave Brubeck, Michael Random and Darius Milhaud, 1940s)


Dave formed The Dave Brubeck Octet with Milhaud students Bill Smith, Dick and Bob Collins, Jack Weeks, and David van Kriedt, as well as San Francisco musicians Cal Tjader and Paul Desmond. (Photo: Octet rehearsing, 1947)

June 14, 1947

David Darius Brubeck was born.
Named for composer Darius Milhaud, Dave’s teacher and mentor.


Dave and two octet members (Cal Tjader and Ron Crotty) created “The Dave Brubeck Trio” recordings. (Photo: Cal Tjader, Ron Crotty and Dave Brubeck, 1950)


The Dave Brubeck Trio recorded their first records with Jack Sheedy and San Fransisco-based Coronet Records. The company later became Fantasy Records under the ownership of Max and Sol Weiss, and continued to record and issue the music of the Trio. These first Brubeck records sold well, and brought the Trio recognition. In an essay written by Dave for “Dave Brubeck – Early Fantasies”, a Book Of The Month Club issue in 1980, he said of the records, “I feel a great debt of gratitude to the first releases. They established my own career and introduced Cal Tjader, Paul Desmond and other San Francisco musicians to an international audience.”

March 18, 1949

Dave and Iola’s second son, Michael Lawrence Brubeck, was born.


While surfing/diving in Hawaii, Dave was seriously injured and damaged his spinal cord and several vertebrae in his neck, leaving him with lingering nerve damage in his hands that adjusts his style toward chunky, block-style chords. Upon recovery, Dave united with Paul Desmond, to form The Dave Brubeck Quartet, along with Bob Bates and Joe Dodge. (Photo: Jack Weeks, Dave and Cal Tjader at the Zebra Lounge, 1951)


Brubeck organized the Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1951. They took up a long residency at San Francisco’s Black Hawk nightclub and gained great popularity touring college campuses, recording a series of albums with such titles as Jazz at Oberlin (1953), Jazz at the College of the Pacific (1953), and Brubeck’s debut on Columbia Records, Jazz Goes to College (1954).

March 19, 1952

Dave and Iola’s third son, Christopher William Brubeck, was born.

November 5, 1953

Dave and Iola’s only daughter, Catherine Ivey Brubeck, was born.


January 1954: Dave’s father, Howard “Pete” Brubeck dies. (Photo: Dave’s parents, 1940s)

November 8, 1954

Dave appeared on the cover of Time Magazine. When Dave found out he would be on the cover, he was embarrassed. It was 1954, and he was pictured on the cover of Time magazine — only the second jazz musician ever to receive that particular mainstream media recognition. The chagrin came, he said, because he felt that his friend Duke Ellington — who was also interviewed for the magazine’s feature on jazz in the U.S. — deserved it more.

May 4, 1955

Dave and Iola’s fourth son, Daniel Peter Brubeck, was born


Dave and family move into new home in Oakland Hills, CA. (Photo: Dave and Iola Brubeck at home Oakland CA)

January 1, 1958

After performing with a variety of musicians, the “classic” Dave Brubeck Quartet was formed, comprised of Brubeck, Paul Desmond, Eugene “Senator” Wright, and Joe Morello, and would go on to make music – and history – together for the next ten years. (Photo: Brubeck, Paul Desmond, Eugene “Senator” Wright, and Joe Morello, 1958)

March, 1958

The Dave Brubeck Quartet travels to Poland, Turkey, India, Ceylon, East and West Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq on the first tour organized by the U.S. State Department to advance the interests of the U.S. through cultural diplomacy. (Photo: Article in an Iran publication, 1958)


Brubeck’s decision to hire Wright led to some racial tension when touring in the South, forcing the group to cancel some shows. Read Ralph Gleason article, 1960: Concerts Canceled: Racial Issue ‘Kills’ Brubeck Jazz Tour of the South

December 10, 1959

The Dave Brubeck Quartet, accompanied by the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Leonard Bernstein, performed “Dialogues for Jazz Combo and Orchestra,” composed by brother, Howard Brubeck. (Photo: Howard Brubeck, Leonard Bernstein and Dave in New York City, 1959)

December 14, 1959

“Time Out” was recorded and released, named for its odd time signatures in songs such as “Take Five” and “Blue Rondo a la Turk.” It became the first jazz album to sell more than a million copies.

January 30, 1960

The David Brubeck Quartet, accompanied by Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic made a studio recording of Howard Brubeck’s “Dialogues for Jazz Combo and Orchestra,” one month following its premiere at Carnegie Hall. Columbia Records released “Bernstein Plays Brubeck Plays Bernstein” with the “Dialogues” on Side A and the Dave Brubeck Quartet performing songs from West Side Story and Wonderful Town on Side B.


In 1961, Brubeck appeared in a few scenes of the British jazz/beat film All Night Long, which starred Patrick McGoohan and Richard Attenborough. Brubeck merely plays himself, with the film featuring close-ups of his piano fingerings. Brubeck performs “It’s a Raggy Waltz” from the Time Further Out album and duets briefly with bassist Charles Mingus in “Non-Sectarian Blues”.

May, 1961

Dave receives Honorary Doctorate from the University of the Pacific. (Photo: Dave and President Robert Burns)

May 9, 1961

Youngest Brubeck, Charles Matthew, was born.


In the early 1960s Dave Brubeck was the program director of WJZZ-FM radio (now WEZN-FM). He achieved his vision of an all-jazz format radio station along with his friend and neighbor John E. Metts, one of the first African Americans in senior radio management.

August 28, 1962

Classic Quartet plays at White House for President Lyndon Johnson when King Hussein of Jordan visited. (Photo: Dave and Paul Desmond with Ladybird Johnson and President Lyndon Johnson, 1964)

September 23, 1962

Dave and Iola’s groundbreaking musical, The Real Ambassadors, a celebration of human understanding, premieres at the Monterrey Jazz Festival starring Louis Armstrong and Carmen McCrae. (Photo: Members of “The Real Ambassadors” taken at rehearsal at St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco a few days before the performance at Monterey Back row, L-R: Howard Brubeck, Danny Barcelona, Eugene Wright, Joe Morello, Billy Cronk, Dave Lambert, Yolande Bavan, Jon Hendricks and Iola Brubeck Front row, L-R: Trummy Young, Carmen McRae, Louis Armstrong and Dave Brubeck. 1962)


Disbands the Quartet and forms a new Quartet with Jack Six on bass and Alan Dawson on drums, featuring Gerry Mulligan on Baritone.

May 14, 1967

On May 14, the Dave Brubeck Quartet played their final concert on a 1967 tour to Mexico. During the tour, they recorded the live album “Bravo! Brubeck!”, which was released later that year. In 1998, a second live album called “Buried Treasures” was released, which was also recorded during the tour. “Bravo! Brubeck!” embraces several Latin melodies and features Chamin Correa on guitar and Salvatore Agueros on bongos and congas.


Dave’s mother passed away. (Photo: Dave and his mother, Elizabeth “Bessie” Brubeck, 1961)



First Major composition recorded, “The Light in the Wilderness,   An Oratorio For Today” with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Erich Kunzel, Conductor.


Composes the Cantata, “Gates of Justice,” a composition that utilizes Hebrew sacred text and speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King to express the spiritual ties that bind different peoples together. (Photo: “Gates of Justice” rehearsal at the National Cathedral, 1971)


Composes the Cantata, “Truth Is Fallen,” written in memory of the slain students of Kent State and Jackson State University.


Performs with sons Darius, Chris, Danny and others as “Two Generations of Brubeck”. (Photo: Chris, Dave, Danny and Darius Brubeck, 1973)


Silver Anniversary Tour of the “Classic” Dave Brubeck Quartet with Dave, Paul Desmond, Eugene Wright and Joe Marello. (Photo: 25th Anniversary reunion tour Joe Morello, Eugene Wright, Dave and Paul Desmond. Groves High School Birmingham Michigan, 1976)


With an integrated band, Dave toured South Africa, then in the grip of apartheid. Dave’s contract stipulated that he and his band would play to an integrated house; when some venues insisted on segregating the audience by skin color, the gig was cancelled.


Dave forms a group with Dave, Chris, Darius and Dan Brubeck called the New Brubeck Quartet. (Photo: Chris, Darius, Dave, Iola and Danny. Nice, France, 1977)

May 30, 1977

Paul Desmond died of lung cancer. (Photo: Dave and Paul Desmond, 1959)

January 1, 1979

Dave composes “To Hope! A Celebration,” a Catholic Mass ,commissioned by Our Sunday Visitor, Inc.


Dave Brubeck Quartet featuring his son Chris on electric bass toured the Soviet Union.

September 18, 1987

Composed “Upon This Rock,” which was commissioned for Pope John Paul II’s visit to San Francisco. (Photo: Mass at Candlestick Park, San Francisco with Pope John Paul II)


The Quartet (with Chris Brubeck on trombone) accompanied President Ronald Reagan to Moscow to perform during the Reagan-Gorbachev Summit. The day after Dave’s performance, Reagan and Secretary Gorbachev signed the INF treaty ratification at the Grand Kremlin. (Photo: Dave Brubeck, Eugene Wright, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. Spaso House, Moscow, 1988)

May 21, 1988

The Fairfield County Chorale premiered Dave Brubeck’s choral oratorio “Lenten Triptych” under the baton of Johannes Somary.  The work was commissioned by the Connecticut Commission for the Arts and Fairfield County Chorale.


Dave was awarded the National Medal of the Arts, presented to him by President Bill Clinton.

February 28, 1996

Dave received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award recognizing his work as an American jazz pianist and composer.


The National Endowment for the Arts named Brubeck a Jazz Master. He has received many other honors in the U.S. and abroad for his contributions to jazz, including the National Medal for the Arts, a Living Legacy Jazz Award from the Kennedy Center and the Austrian Medal for the Arts.


The Brubeck Institute was founded at the University of the Pacific. (Photo: Dave Brubeck and President Emeritus Don DeRosa, 1999)

June 30, 2009

Dave and Iola’s son, Michael, passed away. (Photo: Darius, Matthew, Dave, Chris, Michael and Danny, 1984)

December 6, 2009

Dave is named a Kennedy Center Honoree, on his 89th birthday.

December 5, 2012

Dave died of heart failure in Norwalk, Connecticut, at age 91. He would have celebrated his 92nd birthday the next day. He and Iola had been married for 70 years.

March 12, 2014

Iola Brubeck helped propel her husband, Dave Brubeck, to jazz stardom in the 1950s by starting the innovative practice of booking jazz concerts college campuses. She wrote lyrics for many of Dave’s compositions, recorded by the artists such as Louis Armstrong and Carmen McRae. Iola died March 12, 2014 at her home in Wilton, Conn. She was 90.