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Mark Flugge: Random Thoughts

Lisa's Speech at Memorial Concert, 6/15/14

Posted on June 22, 2014

Illness and Transcendence- Lisa’s Speech at Memorial Concert, 6/15/14


Mark said he hated small talk- I’d actually say he couldn’t do it.  He was incapable of making surface-y, meaningless conversation.  He connected with people, in such a thoughtful, centered way that showed each and every person that he valued them.  Whether you were attending his performances, a student of his, or a server somewhere he played, Mark made you feel like you had a true connection with him; he really cared about people and music, and communicated that to every person he came into contact with.  He told me often that his goal in life was simply to treat people well; I think he attained that goal.


Mark was also incapable of musical small talk.  He was of the “less is more” philosophy of music; each note he played and composed had meaning- a purpose for being there.  He didn’t sing when I met him in 2004; although he had a huge appreciation for song and lyric, he felt it was extremely rare for a singing pianist to do justice to both at once.  It was only in the last six months that he began to do some singing in his performances- sometimes it seemed to help his hearing, and other times he also really wanted to personally express a lyric, such as Bill Evans’ “Waltz for Debby”, which he always dedicated to his daughter, Erika; or Dave Frischberg’s baseball list song “Van Lingle Mungo”.  It was incredibly brave for him to begin a new, very physical musical venture at a time he basically couldn’t hear; he really put himself out there.  At home, I had grown used to the house being totally silent all the time, since music, anything recorded, and even TV sounded terrible to him or hurt his ears.  But in recent months, while he walked on the treadmill in our basement, he started singing the songs he was planning to perform, as practice and to memorize the lyrics.  Hearing him singing a song like “Van Lingle Mungo” while he was on the treadmill made me smile and gave me hope.


Ultimately the incredibly loud incessant noise in his head, the fact that music sounded awful to him about 95% of the time, both combined with the lack of any further medical or therapeutic options to try, was simply not possible for him to endure any longer.  He had to turn the noise off, flip the switch.  He would often ask me, ‘Why has music been taken from me?’ We will never know, but as we perform his music, listen to his recordings, study and enjoy everything he created, and remember the wonderful person he was, we will be giving music back to Mark, wherever his spirit exists now.


How do we give music back to Mark? I encourage everyone to remember his caring spirit and his music, in whatever way works best for you.  Today’s program includes only a small percentage of the 44 pieces Mark left in a note that he would like to have performed at his funeral.  To me, that means we should have another Mark Flugge Memorial Concert next year, and perform the other pieces!  I will be posting the list of pieces, which includes everything from jazz standards, to a Mozart Piano Concerto, to the Beatles, to Space Truckin by Deep Purple, on; please look at the list on his website, and let me know if you’d like to perform one of the pieces on the 2015 Mark Flugge Memorial Concert.  There is also the list of Mark’s favorites of his own compositions in today’s program, only a few of which we had time to include today.  I am interested in people arranging Mark’s pieces for all kinds of different groups; I may try my hand at arranging some of his pieces for flute choir and flute quartet, since I teach those groups here at Capital.  Other people may want to arrange some of his compositions for brass quintet, woodwind quintet, band, or write lyrics and sing them.  I just want to encourage people to perform his pieces on concerts, at gigs, whenever and wherever the spirit moves you; please contact me for sheet music.


The Mark Flugge Memorial Fund will be used for several projects, including a new CD of Mark’s compositions and performances, hopefully released in time for the next Memorial Concert, in May 2015.  We had already recorded two pieces;  Mark had left me a note saying he wanted me to put his Suite Bill Evans, which we premiered in February at the Art Museum, on my next CD.  Well, I’m not going to do that; I’m going to put it on HIS next CD!  The hard part of making this CD will be choosing the rest of the material from Mark’s vast output of written and recorded material.  Other projects include making his music available, in print and/or on line, for musicians wishing to perform his works.  A Mark Flugge Music Scholarship here at Capital is being planned.  Finally, other composers and arrangers may be commissioned to write pieces dedicated to Mark, and to make arrangements of his pieces so they may be performed more widely.  You may purchase Mark’s CDs in the lobby today, which will go to the Memorial Fund; or simply make a donation if you wish.


If you would like to be updated on the release of the new Mark Flugge CD, the 2015 Memorial Concert, or upcoming performances of Mark’s music, please sign up for the mailing list at  


On behalf of my family, thank you to the multitude of people who have reached out to us in comfort the last month.  Finally, I would like to thank all the musicians performing today.  To everyone who would have liked to perform but we didn’t have time to include, I hope you can perform on the 2015 Memorial Concert; please contact me if interested.  Special thanks to Aaron Scott for coordinating the music and musicians today, and to Capital University, particularly Todd Lacy, Heather Bemis, Chad Loughrige, Neal Schmitt, and Lynn Roseberry, for making this all possible.  Please join me in thanking everyone.