Oscar Peterson – Piano Moods – Summertime with sheet music
Oscar Emmanuel Peterson, CC CQ OOnt (August 15, 1925 – December 23, 2007) was a Canadian jazz pianist, virtuoso and composer. He was called the “Maharaja of the keyboard” by Duke Ellington, but simply “O.P.” by his friends. He released over 200 recordings, won eight Grammy Awards, and received numerous other awards and honours. He is considered one of the greatest jazz pianists, and played thousands of concerts worldwide in a career lasting more than 60 years.
Peterson taught piano and improvisation in Canada, mainly in Toronto. With associates, he started and headed the Advanced School of Contemporary Music in Toronto for five years during the 1960s, but it closed because touring called him and his associates away, and it did not have government funding. Later, he mentored the York University jazz program and was the Chancellor of the university for several years in the early 1990s. He published jazz piano etudes for practice. He asked his students to study the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, especially The Well-Tempered Clavier, the Goldberg Variations, and The Art of Fugue, considering these piano pieces essential for every serious pianist. Among his students were pianists Benny Green and Oliver Jones.
He was influenced by Teddy Wilson, Nat King Cole, James P. Johnson, and Art Tatum, to whom many compared Peterson in later years. After his father played a record of Tatum’s “Tiger Rag“, he was intimidated and disillusioned, quitting the piano for several weeks. “Tatum scared me to death,” he said, and was “never cocky again” about his ability at the piano.[ Tatum was a model for Peterson’s musicianship during the 1940s and 1950s. Tatum and Peterson became good friends, although Peterson was always shy about being compared with Tatum and rarely played the piano in Tatum’s presence.
Peterson also credited his sister—a piano teacher in Montreal who also taught several other Canadian jazz musicians—with being an important teacher and influence on his career. Under his sister’s tutelage, Peterson expanded into classical piano training and broadened his range while mastering the core classical pianism from scales to preludes and fugues by Johann Sebastian Bach.
Building on Tatum’s pianism and aesthetics, Peterson also absorbed Tatum’s musical influences, notably from piano concertos by Sergei Rachmaninoff. Rachmaninoff’s harmonizations, as well as direct quotations from his 2nd Piano Concerto, are scattered throughout many recordings by Peterson, including his work with the most familiar formulation of the Oscar Peterson Trio, with bassist Ray Brown and guitarist Herb Ellis. During the 1960s and 1970s Peterson made numerous trio recordings highlighting his piano performances; they reveal more of his eclectic style, absorbing influences from various genres of jazz, popular, and classical music.
- 1975 Best Jazz Performance by a Group The Trio
- 1977 Best Jazz Performance by a Soloist The Giants
- 1978 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Soloist Oscar Peterson Jam – Montreux ’77
- 1979 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Soloist Oscar Peterson and The Trumpet Kings – Jousts
- 1990 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Group Live at the Blue Note
- 1990 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Soloist The Legendary Oscar Peterson Trio Live at the Blue Note
- 1991 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Group Saturday Night at the Blue Note
- 1997 Lifetime Achievement Award Instrumental Soloist Lifetime Achievement
Statue of Oscar Peterson was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa in June 2010.
- Pianist of the year, DownBeat magazine, 1950, and won again for the next 12 years
- Order of Canada, Officer, 1972; Companion, 1984
- Canadian Music Hall of Fame, 1978
- Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award, Black Theatre Workshop, 1986
- Roy Thomson Award, 1987
- Toronto Arts Award for lifetime achievement, 1991
- Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, 1992
- Order of Ontario, member 1992
- Glenn Gould Prize, 1993
- International Society for Performing Artists award, 1995
- Loyola Medal of Concordia University, 1997
- Praemium Imperiale World Art Award, 1999
- Oscar Peterson Concert Hall named at Concordia University, 1999
- UNESCO Music Prize, 2000
- Toronto Musicians’ Association Musician of the Year, 2001
- SOCAN Special Achievement Award, 2008
- Canada’s Walk of Fame, 2013
- Canadian Jazz and Blues Hall of Fame
- Juno Award Hall of Fame
- BBC Radio Lifetime Achievement Award
- National Order of Quebec, Chevalier
- Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France
- Civic Award of Merit, City of Mississauga, 2003
- Oscar Peterson Theatre, Canadian Embassy, Tokyo, Japan, 2007
- Oscar Peterson Hall, University of Toronto Mississauga, 2008
- Oscar Peterson Public School, Stouffville, 2009
- Statue of Oscar Peterson unveiled in Ottawa by Queen Elizabeth II, 2010
- Honorary degrees from Berklee College of Music, Carleton University, Queen’s University, Concordia University, Université Laval, McMaster University, Mount Allison University, Niagara, Northwestern, University of Toronto, University of the West Indies, University of Western Ontario, University of Victoria, and York University