Collecting the names of musicians who die in any single span of time, as NPR does at the end of each year, can be an occasion for tribute or reflection or an exercise in collapsing days, a gateway to a specific moment of pain or gratitude. The truth at the end of 2020 is that the tremendous and overwhelming volume of loss nearly renders the need for that kind of reminder irrelevant. Throughout this relentless year it has been constantly renewed.

We lost icons in every genre: founders and innovators and steadfast traditionalists. The world of jazz, so reliant upon elders to anchor its constantly developing notion of history and legacy, bore an especially heavy burden. (Our colleagues at Jazz Night In America have spent much time already remembering and paying tribute to those lost this year.) What follows is a memorial to musicians we lost in 2020. They are listed below in chronological order by the date they left us.


Jaap Schröder

Dutch violinist, conductor, pedagogue and specialist in the historically informed performance movement

Dec. 31, 1925 — Jan. 1, 2020