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Canadian Jazz Legend Oscar Peterson Wins UNESCO Prize

By Digital Journal Staff     Jul 12, 2000 in Lifestyle
Paris -- Jazz legend Oscar Peterson has been named the winner of the 2000
International Music Council UNESCO Music Prize.
The Montreal-born Jazz pianist is the first Canadian to receive the honour
since it was created in 1975 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific
and Cultural Organization.
UNESCO cited Peterson's career as a jazz musician and composer as well as
his work promoting human rights. The UNESCO Music Prize rewards musicians or
musical institutions that have contributed to the enrichment and development
of music and have served peace, understanding between peoples and
international co-operation.
Oscar Peterson is the fourth of five children. He and his siblings were
introduced to music by their father, who taught himself how to play the
piano when he was in the marines. Oscar Peterson began playing piano at age
One of the first black artists to achieve prominence in the white-dominated
music industry of the 1950s, Peterson, now 75, has remained a lifelong
spokesman for minority rights.
Peterson's impressive career is filled with the successes all musicians
dream of, including more than 200 albums, his portrait on a United States
postage stamp, eight Grammies, a Juno, the prestigious Japanese Praemium
Imperiale award, and even Hall of Fame awards. In 1973 he was made an
Officer of the Order of Canada. With six decades of innovative recordings,
performances and compositions, Peterson is a national and international
musical treasure. He creates his music in a secluded Mississauga, Ontario,
Canada home.
Throughout his career Peterson played with many jazz greats including Ella
Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong,
Duke Ellington, Roy Eldridge, Stan Getz and Charlie Parker.
Peterson's latest composition, Trail of Dreams Suite, performed by the Oscar
Peterson Quartet and conducted by Michel Legrand at an April, 2000 Roy
Thomson Hall performance is reflecting upon "areas of Canada that aid and
give it a personality place - so to speak - in the world," said Oscar
Peterson, "I feel that the music speaks to the picturesque and photographic
scenic quality of various places in Canada that the Trans Canada Trail
passes through."
Peterson will receive the prize Nov. 10 at a ceremony in Aachen, Germany.
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