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Barry Altschul

Growing up in the South Bronx, about a 25-minute walk from Yankee Stadium, one of Altschul’s earliest musical influences was his older sister Marilyn, a classical pianist who later graduated from Juilliard. “My sister used to practice,” he recalls, “and, from what I was told by my parents, I would go over and pick out the melodies when I was 2.”

Acknowledging his special musical gift, his parents eventually had him studying with his sister’s piano teacher. “I really wasn’t ready for that,” he admits. “Instead of reading the music, I’d learn it all by ear. So for three years I was able to fool my teacher into thinking that I was reading the music and playing the music. Then, when I was about 5, I really rebelled and didn’t touch piano again until I was 16. I guess it had a traumatic effect on me in some way.”

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