Earl Zindars

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Earl Zindars
Birth nameEarl Zindars
Born(1927-09-25)September 25, 1927
OriginChicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
DiedAugust 15, 2005(2005-08-15) (aged 77)
San Francisco, California, U.S.A.
GenresJazz, classical
Associated actsBill Evans

Earl Zindars (September 25, 1927 – August 15, 2005) was an American composer of jazz and classical music.


Chicago-born Earl Zindars graduated from DePaul University and went on to earn a master's degree in Music Composition from Northwestern University. He studied with Dr. Leon Stein and Wallingford Riegger, and earned a Fulbright Scholarship to attend Oxford University, where he studied with Edmund Rubbra. Postgraduate work was at Columbia University with Dr. Otto Luening. Fellowships include Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and the Huntington Hartford Foundation. Zindars received numerous commissions and awards throughout his career, including the National Institute of Arts and Letters. He was also the recipient of Broadcast Music, Inc.'s Jazz Pioneer Award, given in recognition of his "long and outstanding contributions to the world of jazz."

His long association with the legendary Bill Evans produced several recordings on the pianist's albums. Evans particularly favored "Elsa" and "How My Heart Sings", which evolved into jazz standards over the pianist's prolific recording career. A 1962 album by the Evans trio was entitled How My Heart Sings! In recognition of Evans's connection with the song and its evocative title, Peter Pettinger also used it as the name of his acclaimed 1998 biography of Bill Evans.[1] Evans recorded other pieces by Zindars, including "Mother of Earl",[2] "Quiet Light," and "Sareen Jurer."

Zindars' music has also been featured on the albums of numerous other jazz greats, including Cannonball Adderley, Donald Byrd, Eddie Daniels, Philly Joe Jones, Dino Saluzzi, and Tony Williams. In 2003, pianist Bill Cunliffe brought out a CD entitled How My Heart Sings, dedicating it exclusively to the music of Earl Zindars. The CD enjoyed several weeks ranked among JazzWeek′s top 10. Zindars's extensive discography numbers nearly 100 albums and continues to grow. Cunliffe described Zindars' contribution:

He (Zindars) was an interesting composer in that he was one of the first, along with Brubeck, to write songs where the time signature changes. For example, on 'How My Heart Sings,' the first part of the song is in a waltz feel, but the middle part of the tune is in a 4/4, medium, swing jazz feel. That was very, very innovative for the fifties. Very few guys were doing that. His music is very interesting harmonically as well and he has a really strong melodic sense. He's a very good composer.––Bill Cunliffe.[3]

Beyond the jazz realm, Earl's classical compositions have been performed by the International Chamber Orchestra of Rome (Italy), San Francisco Symphony Chorus, San Francisco Symphony Brass, San Jose Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Chamber Players, and various brass ensembles around the world.

He was living in New York when he met Anne Bohigian, whose first name is "Annig" in Armenian. She was a jazz singer headlining at Radio City Music Hall with a group called "The Axidentals". Zindars was a timpanist in the orchestra. In between shows, they shared the only available rehearsal room. Six months later, they were married. Shortly thereafter, they moved to San Francisco, where they put down roots and raised their two daughters.

He taught music composition and theory for six years at San Francisco State University and performed with the Ernie Heckshire Orchestra at the Venetian Room in San Francisco's landmark Fairmont Hotel. A great lover of the outdoors, he looked forward to Sunday afternoons where he was the longtime timpanist of the San Francisco Golden Gate Park Band. He was also an avid rose gardener.

In 2003, Alisa Clancy, host of KCSM 91.1FM Bay Area Jazz Station's Desert Island Jazz program, chose Zindars to be a featured "castaway". Based on the BBC radio series Desert Island Discs,[4] the show challenges each castaway to pare life down to its bare essentials by allowing them to select eight pieces of music to accompany them on a deserted island. In addition, they can choose one book and one luxury item. You can view Zindars's selections on KCSM's Desert Island Jazz page: [1]

Zindars, who expressed himself more through his music than words, composed his final composition less than a month before dying in his Richmond District home. It was called "Roses for Annig" and was dedicated to his wife of 43 years.[5]


  1. ^ Pettinger, Peter (2002) [1999]. Bill Evans: How My Heart Sings, Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-09727-1.
  2. ^ http://www.jazzwax.com/2010/12/bill-evans-and-joe-puma.html
  3. ^ Fred Jung (2010). "A Fireside Chat With Bill Cunliffe". All About Jazz. Retrieved June 7, 2010. When I was a kid, I was listening mostly to classical music because my dad had a lot of it in the house. I listened to all the stuff that was on the radio in the Sixties and Seventies.
  4. ^ Desert Island Jazz, KCSM.
  5. ^ Guthrie, Julien, "Earl Zindars -- jazz, classical composer", San Francisco Chronicle.

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