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Bernard Peiffer


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“A prodigy from childhood, he was soon recognized to have a technical mastery of his instrument, which to some was rivaled only by Art Tatum[/artist. However, his legacy and accomplishments have largely gone unnoticed and forgotten. The disruption caused by the Nazi Occupation of France combined with his constant desire for musical independence and a fierce creativity that continued until his death all contributed to his inability to achieve much notoriety or even recording time during his lifetime. But as in the case of any great musician and teacher, his legacy was imparted to his many students, among them Uri Caine, Sumi Tonooka, Tom Lawton, and Don Glandon.

Born on October 23, 1922 in Epinal, France, Peiffer was raised in a musical family, with his father and uncle playing the violin and the organ, respectively. Starting piano at age nine, he studied under Pierre Maire, a student of Nadia Boulanger, and quickly demonstrated his brilliance by being able to play back long sections of classical music by ear.

After winning the esteemed 1st Prize in Piano at the Paris Conservatory, Peiffer began his professional career at the age of twenty, playing with Andre Ekyan and Django Reinhardt.

During World War II, Peiffer joined the French resistance after he witnessed the execution of a friend by the Gestapo in the streets of Paris. Soon afterward he was captured, and was incarcerated for over a year.

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