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THE SCOOP | The RCM Renames School After Noted Alumnus Oscar Peterson

By Anya Wassenberg on September 9, 2021

L-R The Royal Conservatory of Music (Photo: Creative Commons/Wikipedia); Oscar Peterson at Eastman Theatre, 1977 (Photo: Tom Marcello/Flickr)
L-R The Royal Conservatory of Music (Photo: Creative Commons/Wikipedia); Oscar Peterson at Eastman Theatre, 1977 (Photo: Tom Marcello/Flickr)

The RCM has announced the renaming of the Royal Conservatory School as the Oscar Peterson School of Music.

“It is The RCM’s immense pleasure to honour Oscar Peterson, one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century, by naming our school after him,” says Dr. Peter Simon, The Royal Conservatory’s President & CEO, in a release.

“I had the privilege of meeting and speaking with Oscar several times — we discussed his early training and how he developed his extraordinary command of the keyboard. He studied initially with his sister, Daisy, using the curriculum of The RCM to learn pieces and theory. He subsequently studied with Paul de Marky — a pianist whose teacher had studied with Franz Liszt and thus was able to pass along the virtuoso piano techniques that Liszt developed. Oscar believed that a classical grounding was essential for any musician and from this base, one could go anywhere.”

A Classical Foundation

Peterson’s career and place in the lexicon of jazz pianists is indisputable, with a legacy of more than 200 recordings, seven Grammy Awards, a lifetime achievement award from the Recording Academy, and many more accolades in a career spanning more than six decades.

The renowned jazz musician began his music training with the RCM Certificate Program, and in interviews, credited his classical music background as key to his later successes. As a teacher in his own right, he would have his students learn The Well-Tempered Clavier and other Bach masterpieces as essential repertoire for a pianist.

Along with the name change, the RCM will launch a scholarship providing music instruction tuition-free to under-served youth. The program will launch in fall 2022, with more details to come.

On Behalf Of The Family

Ms Kelly Peterson, Oscar’s widow and producer, is quoted in a media release. “The renaming of the Royal Conservatory School would have humbled Oscar tremendously — and he would have been thrilled. It was Oscar’s belief that music education is extremely important for every single person, regardless of whether they intend to pursue a career in music or not, and that his classical music training gave him his technical foundation.”

Peterson was previously named an Honorary Fellow of The Royal Conservatory.

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