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Mark Flugge | 1962-2014: Jazz pianist was busy performer, teacher

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As his hearing grew worse and the distortion in his head louder, Mark Flugge struggled to perform the jazz music he loved.

The double-punch proved particularly painful for the lifelong pianist.

He battled nonstop tinnitus and hearing loss — as well as related depression — for nearly two years.

On Sunday, the Bexley pianist took his own life at age 52.

Increasingly in recent months, the pleasant tones of music and conversation resembled the din of robots and jackhammers.

“A single note sounded like a hideous discord; imagine what a chord sounded like,” said Columbus trombone player and friend Vaughn Wiester, who attended a Flugge concert last Wednesday in Worthington.

The Bexley musician’s ailments were no secret in the central Ohio jazz community.

“The racket in his head continued to compete with how he was hearing the piano,” said drummer and longtime band mate Aaron Scott. “He didn’t see it getting any better. It got the best of him.”

Flugge had consulted doctors and specialists but a clear diagnosis proved elusive, his wife, Lisa Jelle, said yesterday.

He had an inner-ear tumor removed last May, she said. Acupuncture, steroid shots and a cochlear implant couldn’t offer permanent relief.

Still, Flugge maintained a busy calendar. He also continued teaching at Ohio State University and the Capital University Conservatory of Music.

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