For more than three decades, Peter Duchin has been America's preeminent
dance-band leader. Ever since his debut in 1962 at The Maisonette in the St.
Regis Hotel in New York City, Peter Duchin and his orchestra have provided the
music for many of the nation's most notable public and private events: White
House state dinners and inaugural balls, the openings of museums and arts
centers, movie premieres, charity galas, debutante dances, New Year's Eve
parties, college proms and weddings. Peter Duchin himself plays at more than a
hundred events annually.
From the beginning, Peter Duchin and his musicians have been unique in
commanding a repertoire that embraces every style of popular music from jazz to
show-tunes, big-band swing to rock-and-roll. Leading his orchestra from the
keyboard, he upholds the elegant tradition of pianist/bandleaders launched by
his father, the legendary Eddy Duchin, in the 1930's when he reigned at the
Central Park Casino as America's most glamorous band leader.
Peter Duchin's background is a remarkable mixture of show-business and high
society. His mother, Marjorie Oelrichs, was the daughter of a socially prominent
Newport and New York family and a celebrated style-setter in the 1920's and
thirties before she died unexpectedly in 1937, shortly after giving birth to
Peter. While his father was touring with his band and later serving with
distinction as a Naval combat officer in World War II, Peter Duchin was raised
by the wealthy statesman Averell Harriman and his wife, Marie, who were close
friends of his parents. As their godson, he became a skilled outdoorsman and
athlete, and he remains an avid fly fisherman to this day. He is deeply involved
with many environmental groups.
After the war, Peter Duchin lived with his father and stepmother, Chiquita
Wynn Duchin, until 1951, when Eddy Duchin died of leukemia. In 1956 Hollywood
made a successful film about the tragedies of his parents' deaths, The Eddy
Duchin Story, starring Tyrone Power and Kim Novak.
Peter Duchin was educated at Eaglebrook and Hotchkiss prep schools in New
England. He went on to Yale, where he received his B.A. in music and French
Literature after spending his junior year at the Sorbonne in Paris. In Paris he
also studied composition with the widow of the distinguished French composer,
Arthur Honegger. During a two-year tour with the U.S. Army in Panama, he played
in the U.S. Army Band and helped form a jazz orchestra that performed to great
acclaim in Panama City and throughout Latin America.
Back in New York, Peter Duchin embarked on a highly successful recording
career (he's made 26 albums), played a featured part in The World of Henry
Orient, a film with Peter Sellers and Angela Lansbury, and in 1962 opened with
his band at The Maisonette which quickly became the most successful supper club
in town. He ended this extraordinary two year engagement in order to organize
all the music for President Lyndon Johnson's inauguration in 1964, after which
he and his band went on the road for their first national tour. On his return he
organized Peter Duchin Orchestras which has provided top quality music and
entertainment ever since.
Raised with the example of Averell Harriman, Peter Duchin devotes
considerable time and energy to public service. He has used his platform as an
entertainer in various political campaigns, ranging from the Presidential
candidacy of Robert F. Kennedy in 1968 to many benefits for environmental and
civil rights causes. For years he was Vice-Chairman and is now an Honorary
Member for the New York State Council on the Arts. Because of his passion for
classical music, Peter Duchin has served on the boards of Carnegie Hall, Spoleto
Festival U.S.A. and the American Ballet Theatre. Peter Duchin is also on the
board of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the board of Trustees for
the Glimmerglass Opera of Cooperstown, N.Y., the Advisory Council for the
American Russian Youth Orchestra, the World Policy Institute, the National Jazz
Service Organization and the Citizens Committee of New York City.
The father of three children by a previous marriage, he is married to Brooke
Hayward, the writer, and lives in New York City and Washington, Connecticut. He
is the author of a best selling personal memoir called Ghost of a Chance, which
was published by Random House in 1996.
Contact Grabow for more information or to book Peter Duchin
for your next corporate or private event.