Oscar Peterson

Inducted in 1978

An eminent jazz pianist with technical mastery and limitless creativity, Oscar Peterson was a performer who could instantly inspire awe. He earned the nickname “Maharaja of the Keyboard” from none other than Duke Ellington, and can count many of the greatest names in jazz among his devoted legion of fans.

Peterson was born August 15, 1925, in Montreal. His performance career began while he was still in high school, as pianist with the Johnny Holmes Orchestra. After a few years with the orchestra, he formed his own trio, the first in a format he maintained throughout his lifelong career.

Career Highlights


Receives the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.


Serves as chancellor at Toronto’s York University from 1991 to 1994.


Named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1972, later promoted to Companion of the Order in 1984.


Records with Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong on their first collaboration.

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Forms the first Oscar Peterson Trio in the early 1950s.


Joins Norman Granz’s Jazz at the Philharmonic.


Records first album, I Got Rhythm.


Wins the CBC’s national music competition at the age of 14.


Quick Fact

A dedicated performer, Peterson continued to perform live even after a stroke in 1993 limited use of his left hand.

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Quick Fact

In 2015, Peterson’s wife produced Oscar, with Love, a three-CD set featuring prominent jazz pianists playing on his original Bösendorfer piano.