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Marian McPartland Dies, Pianist and NPR Host Mourned

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By Emma Koonse, Christian Post Reporter
August 21, 2013|3:11 pm

Marian McPartland, the jazz pianist and National Public Radio's "Piano Jazz" host, died on Tuesday at age 95.

The English-born musician was also a composer and writer.

McPartland died of natural causes on Tuesday, Aug. 20, McPartland at her home in Long Island, New York, according to NPR's website.

Hosting "Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz Show" for over 40 years, McPartland interviewed and even played with fellow musicians that included Oscar Peterson, Norah Jones, and Elvis Costello, among many others.

Ahead of her career with NPR, McPartland was an accomplished pianist whose love of music arose at a young age- she told NPR in 2005 that her interest in the piano began after hearing her mother play.

"From that moment on, I don't remember ever not playing piano, day and night, wherever I was," said McPartland. "At my aunt's house, at kindergarten-wherever they had a piano, I played it. Of course, on the BBC they played all the hits from over here [the U.S.]. They played them, I heard them and learned them."

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McPartland went on to study at London's Guildhall School of Music & Drama in the 1930's and later joined a four-piano vaudeville act. When WWII began, she joined a troupe of performers and toured Europe and met American soldiers including her future husband, Jimmy McPartland, in 1944.

Once married, McPartland and her husband came to live in New York in 1953 where she landed a gig at the Hickory House where she played intermittently for ten years.

Then, in 1978, McPartland began working for NPR on the "Piano Jazz" show which went on to become the longest-running cultural program ever on NPR. McPartland retired in 2011.

On Wednesday, Marian McPartland became a trending topic on Twitter as news of her death broke.

"We salute Marian McPartland for a remarkable life in music, quite a piano jazz jam session gathering in the heavens, posted New York City's Blue Note Records.

Musician Wynton Marsalis added, "Marian McPartland was a tireless champion for our music."

 

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