By JEFFREY HINES, Associated PressWASHINGTON — A hines musician who was widely considered one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century died Monday at age 75, his daughter said.
The jazz pianists and cellists who knew and admired him described his spirit as “peaceful, gentle and kind,” according to his daughter, Ann Hines.
Ann Hines said her father played the piano at a time when his music was considered to be “soft, tender, romantic and sweet.”
He was the only pianist at his home on the edge of Lake Huron and Lake Erie, she said, that played with his piano and had his own studio in the basement, where he could play without interference from the neighbors.
A career as a musician began in the 1940s and began to take its toll on him, Ann said.
“He was a good person,” she said.
“He was gentle.
He was kind.
He didn’t hurt anybody.
He loved music and loved playing music.
He just loved playing it.”
Hines was born in Buffalo, New York, on Nov. 30, 1920, to parents Thomas and Florence (Wagner) Hines, who worked as musicians for the Buffalo Symphony Orchestra.
He studied music at the New York University School of Music and was an accomplished pianist.
His father, a carpenter and a father of three children, died at age 60 from complications of congestive heart failure.
He also had several children from his first marriage, which ended in divorce.
His daughter, who declined to be identified, said her dad had a deep appreciation for the music of his day.
He wanted to be an artist, too.
“My dad always had that kind of respect for the art form, he never got into politics,” she told The Associated Press by telephone from Buffalo, where her father had been a prominent organist in the area.
“I think he was a very thoughtful person.”
Hine also wrote songs and was a talented violinist, according to Ann.
“I think it was an honor to know my father,” she added.
“My father was a true friend to me.
He really loved music.”
Ann said her mother, who died in 2007, had many memories of her father.
“His love of music was very strong and he would always tell me he loved playing,” she recalled.
“When we played the music, he was always kind and so I think it’s just a tribute to him.
He taught me how to play.”
John Hines served as a music director for the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra and a music professor at the University of Buffalo, before retiring in 2010, according.
John Hins was born April 25, 1922, in Buffalo to Mary (Eisenberger) and Charles (Lorrain) Hins, who lived in nearby St. Albans, where his father, Thomas Hines of the Buffalo Piano Players’ Guild, taught.
He began his professional career at age 14, as a teacher at the Cleveland School for the Performing Arts, where John was a member of the orchestra.
After a few years, he joined the Buffalo Orchestra as a member and taught piano to a number of students including saxophonist and jazz pianizer Joe Henderson.
In the mid-1950s, John joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where, after an injury to his left thumb, he moved to Washington to serve as music director.
In 1954, the orchestra hired him as its conductor, but he was not hired to play on the orchestra’s repertoire and left in 1956, Ann recounted.
He joined the New Haven Symphony Orchestra in 1960, when the orchestra decided to give him a three-year contract to perform music at Carnegie Hall in New York.
John’s first performance on the Carnegie stage was a concert in which he played the opening number of the Broadway musical “The Color Purple.”
John was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the New England Conservatory of Music in 1978.
In addition to teaching at Carnegie, he worked as a professor at Syracuse University.
John was a longtime friend of legendary pianist Billie Holiday and an advocate of the arts.
Holiday had been playing with John at a concert near their home in Buffalo when they were both in their 40s, Ann recalled.
Holiday was in his early 50s when he was shot and killed at the age of 61.
“It’s a terrible tragedy,” she noted.
“Billie Holiday was one of my favorite people in the world.”