Brubeck’s tendency toward peppering his jazz speech with classical tones is rooted in his childhood. His mother, a classically trained piano teacher, was a believer in prenatal influence. "She practiced all through her pregnancies," Dave Brubeck related, according to Len Lyons in The Great Jazz Pianists: Speaking of Their Lives and Music. "When we were born, we were all put near the piano to listen to her practicing. I heard Chopin, Liszt, Mozart, and Bach from infancy." While his brothers took to classical training, Brubeck rebelled against his mother’s teachings, preferring instead to make up his own songs. "There can be little doubt that his original interest in jazz arose as a protest against the idea of playing notes that were written on paper instead of the notes that were in his head," Rice wrote in the New Yorker. It is noteworthy that Brubeck did not learn to read music until later in life. Because of his acute musical ear, he was able to fool his mother by reproducing any piece after listening to it once or twice.
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