by Kathe Molloy for the Valley Business Journal

Victor Tallarico Photo: Kathe MolloyIn his 80’s, Victor Tallarico of Sunapee, New Hampshire is still playing the piano and going strong. Tallarico originally hails from Manhattan where he obtained a thorough education in music.

His early music education started at three and a half years of age with piano lessons from his mother, a piano teacher. Tallarico says, “I learned to read music before I learned to read the printed word.” His mother also gave lessons to Cy Coleman. His father played the cello and the tenor sax and whenever his father was playing close to home young Victor would accompany his father to the local gig and play piano solos. He then spent eight years at Julliard. By the time he was 15, Tallarico was teaching other students. In 1937 he was awarded a Gold Medal at Carnagie Hall where he played with John Dembeck.

Tallarico, in the infantry during World War II, served as a musician for three years at Fort Dix where he met his wife of 57 years, Susan. After the service he returned to playing club dates with Society bands like Ben Cutler, Lester Lanin, Myer Davis, and Joe Carroll.

He headed up the music department for Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx for 15 years, retiring in 1986. In his long and illustrious career Tallarico has played along side such greats as George Shearing, Oscar Peterson, The Velvet Fog-Mel Torme, The Swingles, Lena Horne, and Ella Fitzgerald.

Tallarico has given piano lessons to many people over his life time, some of them famous, including Art Carney’s wife and three children. Another of Tallarico’s students went on to be come world famous, producing one successful album after another: his son Steven, better known as Steven Tyler of Aerosmith.

Tallarico recalls telling Tyler, “Steven, you can play on weekends with your rock-and-roll band but get a job.” Tallarico laughs. “Even when Steven first started I didn’t predict him to last more than two years. He proved me so wrong.”

Now retired Tallarico still performs for enjoyment, leaning towards classical pieces and show tunes. He says his motivation in playing stems from a desire to provide a pleasing hour for his listeners, to chat with them, and for his own personal enjoyment.

Well-known in the Sunapee area, Tallarico’s ties are strong. In the 30’s Tallarico’s father bought land in Sunapee and started a camp and boarding house with an atmosphere geared towards musicians.

When asked what he enjoyed most about his career Tallarico immediately replied, “Teaching, I always enjoyed teaching. I had as many as twenty-five to thirty-five students a week and I had no discipline problems with any of them.”

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