Dirk Fischer, longtime COC Jazz Band Director and Instructor of Jazz Studies, passed away Monday at age 88.
Fischer was a faculty member of the Music department from 1977 to 2005.
“He was the most passionate instructor, musician that you could think of, ” Dr. Bernardo Feldman, COC Music Department Chair said.
Fischer was born in Durand. Michigan in 1924. He began playing the saxophone at age 13 where he earned the nickname “Dirty Dirk.”
After graduating high school, Fischer was drafted into the Army but never had to head overseas even with the United States involved in World War II.
Instead, Fischer worked his way into the Army Service Forces band and remained in Texas, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Fischer eventually settled in California in 1959, and for 14 years owned a coffee shop in Van Nuys.
Later Fischer using money from the business, Fischer returned to school at Cal-State Northridge and Cal-State Los Angeles and earned a teaching credential.
In 1977, Fischer was hired as the first instructor of Jazz Studies at College of the Canyons.
Fischer quickly established a formidable program where he established the RK Downs Jazz Festival which is still held annually.
Fischer was still composing music for the music department at COC at the time of his death.
“He died with music in his heart, and a pencil in his hand,” Feldman added.
In addition to his prowess as a musician, Fischer has produced several arrangements and compositions. His works are performed by many high schools, colleges and professional orchestras throughout the United States and the globe.
Fischer is survived by three sons, and two-step children.