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Larry Adler (b1914)

Born Lawrence Cecil Adler in Baltimore, Maryland, on 10 February 1914, of Yiddish-speaking, orthodox Russian Jewish parents, Larry was an instinctive performer. At the age of two he was already charming grown-ups with his imitations of Al Jolson, at six he played piano “after a fashion” and at ten he was Baltimore’s youngest cantor. That same year he became the Peabody Conservatory of Music’s shortest-serving student before being expelled as “incorrigible, untalented and entirely lacking in ear” for reputedly substituting “Yes, We Have No Bananas” for the set test piece! Nothing daunted, at 13 the self-taught Larry won the Maryland Harmonica Championship for his performance of a Beethoven minuet and, by the time he was seventeen, despite his virtual lack of formal tuition (he was unable to read music properly until about 1940), he had achieved a certain fame as a stylish virtuoso of the mouth-organ.




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