Oscar Emmanuel Peterson is a Canadian jazz pianist and composer. He was born on August 15, 1925 in Montreal, Quebec.
He began learning trumpet and piano from his father at the age of five, but by the age of seven, after a bout of tuberculosis, he concentrated on the piano. He soon developed a reputation as a technically brilliant and melodically inventive jazz pianist, and became a regular on radio. He first appeared at Carnegie Hall in 1949.
- Oscar Peterson -
Some of his musical associates have included Ray Brown, Herb Ellis, Ed Thigpen, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Clark Terry, and Joe Pass. An important moment of his career was when he joined impresario Norman Granz's labels (especially Verve records), with which he was able to play with the major jazz artists of the moment.
Some of the artists who influenced Oscar during the early years were Teddy Wilson, Nat 'King' Cole, James P. Johnson and the legendary Art Tatum, who many have tried to compare Oscar to in later years. In fact, one of Oscar's first exposures to the musical talents of Art Tatum came early in his teen years when his father played an Art Tatum record to him and Oscar was so intimidated by what he heard that he didn't touch the piano for over a month.
In 1993, Oscar suffered a serious stroke that weakened his left side and sidelined him for two years. However he has overcome this setback and is today still touring, recording and composing as ever before. In 1997 he received a Grammy for Lifetime Achievement and an International Jazz Hall of Fame Award, proof that Oscar Peterson is still regarded as one of the greatest jazz musicians ever to play.
His work has earned him seven Grammy awards over the years and he was elected to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1978. He also belongs to the Juno Awards Hall of Fame and the Canadian Jazz and Blues Hall of Fame.
He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1972, and promoted to Companion, its highest rank, in 1984. He is also a member of the Order of Ontario, a Chevalier of the Ordre du Québec, and an officer of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
He has received the Roy Thomson Award (1987), a Toronto Arts Award for lifetime achievement (1991), the Governor General's Performing Arts Award (1992), the Glenn Gould Prize (1993), the award of the International Society for Performing Artists (1995), the Loyola Medal of Concordia University (1997), the Praemium Imperiale World Art Award (1999), the UNESCO Music Prize (2000), and the Toronto Musicians' Association Musician of the Year award (2001).
From 1991 to 1994 he was chancellor of York University in Toronto.
In 2004 the City of Toronto named the courtyard of the Toronto-Dominion Centre Oscar Peterson Square.
Peterson's niece, Sylvia Sweeney, is a Canadian journalist and documentary film producer. Her 1992 film In the Key of Oscar is about Peterson.
His prolific recording output includes
- Exclusively for My Friends
- Oscar Peterson Plays Duke Ellington (1953)
- Oscar Peterson Plays the Duke Ellington Song Book (1959)
- West Side Story: Oscar Peterson Trio (1962)
- Night Train (1962)
- Canadiana Suite (1963)
- Hymn to Freedom (1964)
- We Get Requests (1964)
- Easter Suite (1984)
- Oscar Peterson Plays the Duke Ellington Song Book (1999) -- combined reissue of the 1953 and 1959 Ellington recordings
External links This biography is published under the GNU Licence