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Dresden, Germany, after bombing: Jazz composer says most of Commandments were broken in World War II
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Brubeck's 'Commandments' to be heard
Legendary jazz musician - who is not Jewish but has composed Jewish-themed works - will premiere choral work at Jewish Music Heritage Festival

NEW YORK - Dave Brubeck can finally cross something off that's been on his "to-do" list for nearly 60 years: The legendary jazz pianist will unveil a new six-minute choral work called "The Commandments" Sept. 14 at Lincoln Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall, as part of the second annual Jewish Music Heritage Festival in New York.

 

"It has taken me almost 60 years finally to compose something I wanted to write when I was a young soldier in Europe," the 84-year-old Brubeck said in a statement.

 

"The Commandments," to be sung by the 90-member Providence Singers, follows the 10 Biblical rules. The pianist says the inspiration came during World War II when he saw most of the commandments broken.

 

Brubeck spent four years in the Army after graduating college in 1942. His long career includes the classic album, "Time Out," which featured the surprise hit "Take Five."

 

Not Jewish

 

Last year, his 1969 cantata “Gates of Justice,” was performed at San Francisco’s Congregation Sherith Israel.

 

“The piece seems more powerful now,” the composer told J, the Jewish newsweekly of Northern California, in a 2004 interview. “When

we do it lately, people say it has a tremendous message. I don’t remember that much excitement at the premiere.”

 

Based on Jewish texts and the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “Gates of Justice” is “a bridge upon which the universal theme of brotherhood could be communicated,” Brubeck told the San Francisco newspaper. 

“I think the world is in shock now,” says Brubeck, “and when you’ve got a line from Martin Luther King like ‘You must live together as brothers or die together as fools,’ I think people hear it clearly now.”

 

Brubeck has been mistaken as Jewish, but he is not. He is composer of the famous jazz piece "Take Five," which became a surprise in the the 1950s, despite being recorded in the difficult time measure of 5/4.

 

Material for this article adapted from an article in J , the Jewish newsweekly of Northern California. Used by permission

 

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