Death of an influential American composer

Death of an influential American composer


norman lebrecht

March 26, 2016

The death has been announced of the composer David Baker who, though primarily a jazz musician, received commissions from Janos Starker, the New York Philharmonic, Josef Gingold, the Beaux Arts Trio and many other classical individuals and ensembles.

Baker, who was 84, founded the jazz studies department at Indiana University in 1968 and was its chair until 2013.

He co-founded the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and served as its conductor and musical and artistic director from 1990 to 2012.

david baker


  • Mike says:

    We’ve lost such a beautiful human being. Indiana has a huge student body, and when you’re not one of the stars it’s easy to feel like a nobody there. Mr. Baker did not know me and I did not take any of his classes but he always, without fail, held the door for me if I was walking behind him and asked how my day was going. His sincere kindness was a subtle but enormous source of strength in dark times for so many.

  • MacroV says:

    I remember hearing our youth orchestra conductor talk about some of his children at IU who took Mr. Baker’s jazz class, and what an impact it had on their classically-trained selves. I only recall hearing one of his works – part of a piano trio – but it blew me away. So charming and original. Always meant to get to know his music better. Looks like I should get started.