Oscar Peterson

Oscar Peterson

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December 23, 2007 (Age 82) died

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August 15, 1925 Birthday

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Montreal, Quebec, Canada Birthplace

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Oscar Peterson was one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time and is particularly known for his dexterity and swing style. During his decades long career, Peterson released over 200 recordings, won 7 Grammy's and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the organization. Peterson began his career in Quebec, playing around Montreal and recording for the Victor label. His career took off in 1949 when producer/promoter Norman Granz heard Peterson play and invited him to perform in a Jazz at the Philharmonic concert at Carnegie Hall. Peterson accompanied well known vocalists Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday as well as playing with greats such as Dizzy Gillespie and Count Basie, but he is best known for his work in the trio format. Peterson worked consistently until he suffered a stroke in 1993. He resumed playing in 1995, although he never fully recovered the use of his left hand. Oscar Peterson passed away in 2007 at the age of 82.


Oscar Peterson was given the nickname " Maharaja of the Keyboard” by Duke Ellington. In 1960 Oscar Peterson opened the Advanced School of Contemporary Music in Toronto, which lasted 3 years. Oscar Peterson was voted Jazz Pianist of the Year in 1950 in the Downbeat Readers’ Poll and continued to win the category for the following 12 years.

Early Life

Oscar Peterson was born in Montreal, Quebec in 1925. His father was an amateur trumpeter and pianist. Peterson studied both instruments as a child until a case of tuberculosis at age 7 forced him to focus on the piano. Peterson studied classical piano often practicing 6 hours a day, but his true love was jazz. At age 14 Peterson won a national music competition and began staring on a weekly radio show. During his teens he played professionally around Montreal and was a member of the Johnny Holmes Orchestra.