“The Downtown Keyboard Magus”
— The New Yorker
Born on December 8, 1956 in Newark, New Jersey, Jed Distler studied piano at first with Vera Tisheff, who introduced him to his future mentor Dick Hyman. Distler studied composition at the Juilliard School of Music Pre-College with Andrew Thomas. His principal piano teachers as an undergraduate at Sarah Lawrence College (where he taught for more than 20 years) were Stanley Lock and William Komaiko. Distler also received early encouragement from Hank Jones, and was asked by Bill Evans to edit and transcribe his solos for publication, having already produced a book of Art Tatum transcriptions. Although he started out in jazz, contemporary classical music was the chief focus of Distler’s career as both pianist and composer. Among composers whose works he has premiered include Virgil Thomson, Richard Rodney Bennett, Andrew Thomas, Frederic Rzewski, Alvin Curran, Wendy Mae Chambers, Lois V Vierk, William Schimmel and Simeon ten Holt. As a recitalist, Distler has given new music concerts across the United States and Europe, from Italian festivals in Ravello, Sorrento, Erculano and Varallo Sesia to New York’s Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall.
A Steinway Artist, Distler has recorded extensively for Steinway Spirio, a high resolution player piano. In 1987, Distler co-founded the New York-based new music presenting organization ComposersCollaborative, Inc., where he organized marathon performances such as the complete musical portraits of Virgil Thomson, Arthur Jarvinen’s 24-hour-long Serious Immobilities and the New York premier of Simeon ten Holt’s minimalist magnum opus Canto Ostinato. As Artist-in-Residence for WWFM.Org The Classical Network, Distler is the creator, host and producer of Between the Keys, a weekly radio program that won the 2017 ASCAP Deems Taylor Virgil Thomson Award for excellence in broadcasting. Distler’s writings can be found in Gramophone, Classicstoday.com and via numerous CD booklet notes. He and his wife the painter Maria Scarpini live in New York City.