Adler, Larry

Adler, Larry (Lawrence Cecil Adler) ădˈlər [key], 1914–2001, American harmonica player, b. Baltimore. Adler, whose career spanned seven decades, is generally credited with elevating the harmonica to concert status in the classical music world. As a child he studied piano and was briefly enrolled at Baltimore's Peabody School of Music, but he was self-taught on the harmonica, and did not learn to read music until 1941. Beginning in 1934, he performed for film soundtracks, and he also appeared in concert. From 1939, Adler was a harmonica soloist with many of the world's major symphony orchestras and was particularly noted for his interpretations of Darius Milhaud and Ralph Vaughan Williams. In 1941 he formed an association with tap dancer Paul Draper, with whom he performed for many years. During the 1950s the two were blacklisted for alleged Communist affiliations, charges that Adler denied. Adler left the United States for London in 1952 and spent most of the remainder of his life there. His books include How I Play (1937) and Larry Adler's Own Arrangements (1960).

See his autobiography (1984).

His brother, Jerry Adler (Hilliard Gerald Adler), 1918–2010, b. Baltimore, was also a virtuoso harmonica player, performing primarily popular music. In the 1940s, 50s, and 60s he often was a soloist on motion-picture soundtracks.

See his autobiography (2005).

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