Born on 08 December 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. Mr. Distler’s initial focus was on jazz, and the great jazz pianist Hank Jones gave him early encouragement. Distler was so inspired by the playing of Art Tatum that he produced a book of Art Tatum transcriptions, and was subsequently asked by Bill Evans to edit and transcribe his solos for publication.
Although he started out in jazz, contemporary classical music has been the chief focus of Distler’s career as both pianist and composer. Among composers whose works he has premiered are 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, Cremona,Sorrento, Erculano and Varallo Sesia to New York’s Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. His numerous artist residencies include stints at the University of Nevada/Las Vegas, Cal Poly Pomona, Colorado College, the Hartt School of Music and the University of Kansas/Lawrence. A Steinway Artist, Distler has recorded extensively for Steinway Spirio, a high resolution player piano.
In 1987 Jed 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 premiere of Simeon ten Holt’s minimalist magnum opus Canto Ostinato. The performance of an original composition of his for 175 electronic keyboards won a 2013 Guinness Record for the world’s largest keyboard ensemble.
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 gained notoriety in 2007 for helping to uncover the scandal exposing hundreds of recordings fraudulently credited to pianist Joyce Hatto, and was featured in a BBC television documentary on the subject. Distler’s writings can be found in Gramophone, Classicstoday.com and in numerous CD booklet notes, with essays and playlists on idagio.com. Distler’s original works and arrangements are available on the CRI, New World, Nonesuch, Point, Bridge, Decca, Steinway & Sons, Sony Classical and TNC Music labels.
Jed Distler and his wife, the painter Maria Scarpini, live in New York City.