Brubeck’s Dreams

A nice profile of Dave Brubeck here at St Anthony Messenger. This bit from the middle of the interview really struck me. When a priest asked him about the lack of a Lord’s Prayer setting in his Mass, To Hope! A Celebration, the composer responded:

“They didn’t ask me to do that.”He resolved not to make the addition that, in his mind, would wreak havoc with the composition as he had created it. He told the priest, “No, I’m going on vacation and I’ve taken a lot of time from my wife and family. I want to be with them and not worry about music.”

“So the first night we were in the Caribbean, I dreamt the Our Father,” Brubeck says, recalling that he hopped out of bed to write down as much as he could remember from his dream state. At that moment he decided to add that piece to the Mass and to become a Catholic.

He has adamantly asserted for years that he is not a convert, saying to be a convert you needed to be something first. He continues to define himself as being “nothing” before being welcomed into the Church.

His Mass has been performed throughout the world, including in the former Soviet Union in 1997 (when Russia was considering adopting a state religion) and for Pope John Paul II in San Francisco during the pontiff’s 1987 pilgrimage to the United States. At the latter celebration, Brubeck was asked to write an additional processional piece for the pope’s entrance into Candlestick Park.

Again, it was a dream that led him to accept a sacred music project that he initially refused as not workable. The dream “was more of a realizing that I could write what I wanted for the music,” Brubeck says.

“They needed nine minutes and they gave me a sentence, ‘Upon this rock I will build my Church and the jaws of hell cannot prevail against it.’ So rather than dream musically, I dreamed practically that Bach would have taken one sentence in a chorale and fugue, as he often did, and that was the answer,” he says. “So I decided that I would do that piece for the pope,” which is known as “Upon This Rock.”

The jazz great has touched a great Biblical tradition, especially of the Josephs (of Genesis and Matthew) tapping into dreams for guidance.

I like his perspective on the label “convert.” I felt the same way as a boy. Before I was baptized, I was really nothing.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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4 Responses to Brubeck’s Dreams

  1. Melinda MT says:

    So inspiring – I am a recent “convert” and I resonate with his definition of convert as well. I heard some of Brubeck’s sacred music some years while I was still “nothing”…I listened very carefully to it because when a fellow musician takes to composing music for God out of the blue – well, you simply have to listen at attention – you can’t turn away – you must take it in – I did and several years later the seed blossomed and I came home – Thank you Dave and thank you Father, Son and Holy Spirit…Thank you Holy Mother, and Holy Mother Church…

  2. How marvelous to see the keyboard reflected in his glasses!

  3. manuel says:

    thnx 4 posting this!
    big fan of sacred jazz works and of course brubeck was 1 of the best…

    God Bless

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