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January 9, 2014

From Carnegie to Cooperstown

Pianist, Peltzman, to play concert series

Roger Peltzman, concert pianist, takes the stage at the Otesaga Hotel to perform the first concert in the Concert Series this year. 

The show is at 7:30 pm Saturday.

Peltzman, who has performed six times at Carnegie Hall, has a unique family history which brings a particular poignancy to his playing. His gift of music is used to remember an uncle lost to the tragedy of the Holocaust, who also had the gift of music. 

Always drawn to music, one of his Peltzman’s first recollections is watching the Beatles play on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964. Shortly after, his mother mentioned that a neighbord boy, Johnny, could read the newspaper. 

 “Can you read the newspaper?” she asked. Peltzman said he responded, “No, but does Johnny know who Tchaikovsky was?” 

Peltzman laughs when this story is recounted, “I was a music fanatic from day one, whether or not it was classic or pop.”

Peltzman was one of three brothers who all took piano lessons when young. Peltzman said he started at age six, “but I wasn’t always sure I wanted to be a musician. That didn’t happen until college. I was interested in film making as well as music, but there I discovered I was much more passionate about music which is why it changed.” 

He attended SUNY Binghamton where he graduated with honors in both music and cinema. He went on to receive his Masters in piano performance at the Manhattan School of Music. Peltzman’s musical genes can be directly traced to his Uncle Norbert Stern, his mother Beatrice’s brother. 

Despite Peltzman’s easy manner on the phone, the story is dramatic and tragic. 

“In 1933, my grandparents, my mother, Beatrice, and my Uncle Norbert fled Hitler’s Berlin for Brussels, Belgium,” he said. “In 1936, Norbert enrolled at the prestigious Brussels Conservatory of Music, where he was recognized as a singular talent who held the promise of becoming one of the world’s greatest pianists. Then, in 1940, the Germans invaded Belgium. My uncle continued at the conservatory until 1942, when the life-threatening situation in Brussels finally forced the Stern family into hiding. At that point Norbert had no choice but to abandon his studies. 

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