Humans of UD: Nick Hoff

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Junior Nick Hoff is a pianist at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas. Photo courtesy of Nick Hoff.

In addition to being a life-long Dallas resident and junior business major at the University of Dallas, Nick Hoff is also a paid pianist, occasional arm-wrestling competitor and fiancé. 

Hoff started working at the Adolphus Hotel last year as their lobby pianist. The only thing that made playing piano slightly less enjoyable was that “you have to show up on time and regularly do it,” said Hoff. 

Playing piano was still work despite being one of Hoff’s favorite things to do. However, Hoff still describes the experience as somewhat surreal, saying, “This is my job … playing an antique, nine foot Steinway … in a super bougie hotel.” 

“Being paid also made it more enjoyable,” joked Hoff. 

The hotel environment also allowed Hoff to meet a lot of people from all over the world. Many Europeans would stay at the Adolphus and start up conversations with him. 

The Adolphus’ piano has a remarkable story itself. The Steinway in the Adolphus Hotel was one of two ever made; its twin was put on the Titanic. Originally intended to be placed on the Titanic as well, it somehow escaped this fate, and was bought by the hotel in 1912, to eventually be played by Hoff this past year. Even though Hoff left this Steinway behind for Rome, he found himself at a Steinway store this past fall in Vienna, and even played one of the pianos in their storefront. 

Hoff has been playing piano since childhood. In fact, he was taught at one point by his mom, who was herself a music major. 

“My mom was my first piano teacher, which means I come from a direct line all the way back to Chopin,” Hoff said. According to Hoff, one of the teachers of his mother’s teachers links back to Chopin. 

Perhaps because of this inherited love of Chopin, Hoff’s favorite piece to play is Chopin’s Waltz in C# Minor, Op. 64, No. 2. He generally loves anything by Chopin or Joplin. 

Hoff doesn’t “see a time when piano would not be a side job,” and he hopes to continue playing piano on nights and weekends, even when he has a full time job. 

The subjects of Eden Brubaker and piano are “basically my two favorite things,” Hoff said. 

He proposed to Brubaker, a senior business major at UD, on the Cliffs of Moher, in Ireland this past November. He and Brubaker attended the same youth group in their high school for years and they started dating Brubaker’s freshman year at UD and Hoff’s senior year of high school. 

They had both planned on going to Rome in the fall of 2020, but COVID-19 pushed their plans back a year. It was on Nov. 21, 2020 that Hoff decided he was going to propose to Brubaker, almost exactly a year before he would on Nov. 26, 2021. 

While Hoff enjoys powerlifting, he also participated once in an arm-wrestling tournament. Hoff describes it as “something I’ve kind of messed around with, but never all that seriously.”

Hoff was drawn to UD by other people in his homeschool co-op, and also by his brother, Michael, who graduated from UD in 2015. In Hoff’s words he saw his brother and “wanted to be like him.” Hoff is in the third year of pursuing his MBA through UD’s 4+1 program, and post-graduation, Hoff’s wildest dream is to one day be able to open up a jazz club.

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