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Famous Like Me > Composer > P > Oscar Peterson

Profile of Oscar Peterson on Famous Like Me

Name: Oscar Peterson  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 15th August 1925
Place of Birth: Montréal, Québec, Canada
Profession: Composer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia
Oscar Peterson

Oscar Emmanuel Peterson, CC , CQ , O.Ont., D.Mus. 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. 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, to whom many have tried to compare Oscar 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.

He soon developed a reputation as a technically brilliant and melodically inventive jazz pianist, and became a regular on Canadian radio. His United States introduction was at Carnegie Hall, New York City in 1949 by Norman Granz; owing to union restrictions his appearance could not be billed.

Some of his musical associates have included Ray Brown, Ben Webster, Herb Ellis, Ed Thigpen, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Clark Terry, Joe Pass, and Stan Getz. An important step in his career was joining impresario Norman Granz's labels (especially Verve records) and Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic package, with which he was able to play with the major jazz artists of the time. Granz was also his manager for most of Peterson's career. Some cognoscenti assert though that Peterson's best recordings were made for the MPS label in the late 'sixties and early 'seventies. For some years subsequently he recorded for Granz's Pablo Records after the label was founded in 1973 and in more recent years for the Telarc label.

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 on a limited basis. 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 National Order of Quebec, 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.

Oscar Peterson 2005 postage stamp

On August 15, 2005 Peterson celebrated his 80th anniversary at the HMV flagship store in Toronto. A crowd of about 200 gathered to celebrate with him there. Diana Krall sang happy birthday to him and also performed a vocal version of one of Peterson's songs "When Summer Comes", the lyrics for this version were written by Elvis Costello, Krall's husband. Canada Post unveiled a commemorative postage stamp in his honour. This marked the first time that a Canadian postage stamp was created celebrating an individual who was still alive other than Queen Elizabeth II. The event was covered by a live radio broadcast by Toronto jazz station,


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)
  • In Tune (1971) The Singers Unlimited
  • Easter Suite (1984)
  • Oscar Peterson Trio + One (1964) – the trio with Clark Terry
  • Oscar Peterson Plays the Duke Ellington Song Book (1999) -- combined reissue of the 1953 and 1959 Ellington recordings
  • Trail of Dreams: A Canadian Suite (2000) -- Jazz suite with strings conducted by Michel Legrand

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Oscar Peterson