James Bastien 1934-2005

One of the most well-known people to have lived in Garden Home was James Bastien, piano pedagogue and musician. In the 1940s and 1950s, James lived at 7665 SW Oleson Road, just south of Gust Johnson’s gas station (and the current Mobil station). Generations of Americans who have learned to play the piano have used Bastien’s piano instruction books.

Jim Bastien is pictured here with Garden Home classmates Gwen Berry and Dorothy Johnson, of Miss America fame. Dorothy remembers “Garden Home had some of the best people in the world. Jim Bastien and his family lived on Oleson Road two doors away. Jim Bastien played piano and went on to publish ‘Bastien Piano Books’ that inspired a generation of piano students and teachers.”

Gwen, Jim Bastien and Dorothy. (photo of the 3 high schoolers is courtesy of Dorothy Johnson)

Gwen, Jim Bastien and Dorothy. (photo of the 3 high schoolers is courtesy of Dorothy Johnson)

Don Krom’s mother and James Bastien’s mother Dorothy were sisters. The Krom and Bastien families lived across Oleson from each other.

Don recalls that his Aunt Dorothy had a writing group that met in Garden Home which included: L.Ron Hubbard writing his science fiction, Peg Bracken who wrote about women’s issues and humor, Charlotte Goldsmith whose husband flew in WWI and WWII, wrote stories about war and planes for the Sat. Evening Post and other publications. His aunt Dorothy wrote for Scholastic magazine, novels and books.

Jim Bastien, Aunt Dorothy’s son, was a classical pianist. He married Jane, lived in New Orleans and they both wrote piano instruction books. Most new piano learners are using piano books by Jim Bastien. He died in 2005 and his obituary was featured in the New York Times.

Bastien home

Bastien home

James Bastien’s official biography is reprinted here with permission from  Kjos Music Company:

James Bastien

James Bastien

James Bastien

James Bastien was born in Bellingham, Washington, on April 10, 1934. His father, Clarence, was musical and played the violin. His mother, Dorothy, was a writer and a high school Latin and journalism instructor. After living in Seattle and Florida, the family moved to Portland, Oregon, where Jim began his piano studies with Frances Mulkey North. Subsequently, Jim studied with the late Ariel Rubstein, the late Louis Artau, and the late Gyorgy Sandor.

Jim received his undergraduate and masters degrees from Southern Methodist University. He was a former member of the faculties of Notre Dame University, Tulane University, Loyola University (New Orleans), and the summer faculties of Tanglewood and the National Music Camp at Interlochen, Michigan.

Jim met his wife Jane Smisor in New Orleans in 1960. They performed as the duo-piano team, Smisor and Bastien. In addition, Jim was a Columbia Artist accompanist whose collaborative career included appearances with Richard Tucker and John Alexander. During this time Jim and Jane started writing music to address the needs of their students. This was the beginning of the Bastien piano books that have inspired so many piano students and teachers.

The Bastien piano books have been published worldwide by the Neil A. Kjos Music Company since 1963 and are now translated into 14 languages. In 1999, The Music Teachers National Association presented Jim and Jane with the Lifetime Achievement Award, the association’s highest honor, in recognition of their outstanding career in music and contribution to the music profession.

James W. Bastien, loving husband and father, and a passionate piano pedagogue and musician, passed away on December 7, 2005, in La Jolla, California. During his long career, Jim became internationally known through his contributions to piano teaching, composing, writing, adjudication, and performing. With more than 300 publications to his credit, the Bastien name has become synonymous with innovative piano pedagogy.

© 2011 Neil A. Kjos Music Company
Used with permission 2011


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2 Responses to James Bastien 1934-2005

  1. Pingback: Don Krom memior | Garden Home History Project

  2. Pingback: Ward Nelson – Garden Home memoir | Garden Home History Project

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