(Soundbite of music)


We're listening to the music of Oscar Peterson, the jazz pianist who died over the weekend. He suffered kidney failure. He was 82 years old, a link back to an earlier generation of jazz greats.

When Peterson first heard those great musicians, he was just a kid, growing up in Canada and listening to a relatively new device called the radio.

Mr. OSCAR PETERSON (Jazz Pianist): Late at night, I'd sneak downstairs and turn on the radio and put my ear right to the speaker. And listen to Duke and Basie and Artie Shaw. I'd be down with the volume a way, way down low so I wouldn't wake up my parents and they wouldn't know I was downstairs. I'd be ingesting all this wonderful music.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: Oscar Peterson studied music at the prodding of his father. He was a railway porter and a self-taught musician. His son turned to piano by necessity. Tuberculosis made it hard for him to play his first choice, he trumpet. But Peterson developed an astonishing technique at the keyboard.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: The man, who became a pianist because of an illness, suffered a stroke in 1993. It weakened the piano player's left hand. Yet in the last years before his death, at age 82, Oscar Peterson found ways to compensate and kept right on play.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: To hear a concert of Oscar Peterson gave in 1982, go to our new music Web site, npr.org/music.


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