Reference Entry

Beiderbecke, Bix

Steven M. Kane

in American National Biography Online

Published in print January 1999 |
Published online February 2000 | e-ISBN: 9780198606697 | DOI:

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Beiderbecke, Bix (10 March 1903–06 August 1931), musician, was born Leon Bix Beiderbecke in Davenport, Iowa, the son of Bismarck Herman Beiderbecke, a coal and lumber dealer, and Agatha Jane Hilton. The youngest of three children in a well-to-do musical family, Beiderbecke was only seven when he achieved local fame for his ability to sit at the piano and play by ear virtually any tune of the day. At age fifteen, having come under the spell of the music of the riverboat bands and the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, he acquired a cornet and resolved to master the instrument on his own. He quickly became fluent enough to play jobs with other young musicians. His father and mother, distressed over his increasing preoccupation with jazz and his corresponding loss of interest in academic studies, enrolled him in Lake Forest Academy, a boarding school near Chicago. Beiderbecke made a poor adjustment to the school, however, and was compelled to withdraw. At age nineteen he thus was launched on a career as a jazz hornman....

Reference Entry.  1164 words. 

Subjects: Brass ; Blues ; Jazz

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