He began learning trumpet and piano from his father at the age of five, but by the age of seven he was focused on the piano. He soon developed a reputation as a technically brilliant and melodically inventive jazz pianist, and became a regular on radio. He first appeared at Carnegie Hall in 1949.
Some of the artists who influenced Oscar during the early years were Teddy Williams, Nat "King" Cole, James P. Johnson and the legendary Art Tatum, who many have tried to compare Oscar to in later years. In fact, one of Oscar's first exposures to the musical talents of Art Tatum came early in his teen years when his father played an Art Tatum record to him and Oscar was so intimidated by what he heard that he didn't touch the piano for over a month.
In 1993, Oscar suffered a serious stroke that weakened his left side and sidelined him for two years. However he has overcome this setback and is today still touring, recording and composing as ever before. In 1997 he received a Grammy for Lifetime Achievement and an International Jazz Hall of Fame Award, proof that Oscar Peterson is still regarded as one of the greatest jazz musicians ever to play.
His prolific recording output includes