IN MEMORIAM Oscar Emmanuel Peterson - (August 25, 1925 to December 23, 2007) Bösendorfer grieves for a friend...
"Dammit, Norman, where does this box go? I also gotta have such a thing!"
A long friendship began in the late '70s with these words, spoken by the great jazz pianist to his impresario, Norman Granz.
(Obituary and photo gallery)
The box to which Oscar Peterson was referring was none other than a Bösendorfer Imperial and the occasion was a special concert evening in Vienna with many encores.
"I hung around till the audience left, then sprinted ceremoniously back to the piano to rejoice in its incredible sound quality once again. Norman was so overwhelmed by my initial reaction that he forgot to tell me that a Bösendorfer representative was waiting for me to let the company know whether I was satisfied with the instrument they had put at my disposal. Shortly afterwards they contacted my and offered for me to select a piano according to my taste the next time I was in Vienna - an offer I couldn't refuse!"
(Quote from Oscar Peterson's autobiography, A Jazz Odyssey, pp. 294/German version)
The day before Christmas Eve, on Sunday, December 23, 2007, the legendary Canadian jazz pianist and composer Oscar Peterson died in his house in a Toronto suburb at the age of 82.
Oscar Peterson suffered a stroke in 1993, from which he nonetheless recovered. His famous left hand remained significantly affected, however.
Peterson last performed in Austria in November 2003. It was the great gala concert in the Golden Hall of the Vienna Musikverein on the occasion of Bösendorfer's 175th anniversary ("A Night in Vienna" DVD, see below).
Born in Montreal on August 15, 1925, Peterson began his career as a professional musician at the age of 17. In 1947 he led his own trio for the first time. His big international breakthrough came as Norman Granz (Peterson's impresario and friend) invited him to perform at Carnegie Hall for the concert series Jazz at the Philharmonic.
The keyboard magician was also famous for his work with smaller ensembles such as duos and trios. He very often played with bassists Ray Brown, Niels Henning, Ørsted Pedersen, as well as guitarists Barney Kessel, Joe Pass and Herb Ellis. These chamber music-oriented ensembles usually got by without percussion.
Peterson played with the giants of jazz history, among them Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Nat King Cole and Duke Ellington.
He was awarded eight Grammys, including one in 1997 for his life's work. Over a dozen universities have granted him honorary doctorates. In 2000, he was awarded the UNESCO International Music Prize.
Within the context of his last Vienna performance, he received the Austrian Medal for the Sciences and Arts from Austria's Secretary of the Arts Franz Morak (November 20, 2003).
Together with Bösendorfer, the Austrian Post Office created a stamp in his honor (November 19, 2003).
Our recording-collection for our Bösendorfer Computerpiano contains a few original recordings by Oscar Peterson.