Although Mr. Alesse says he has little memory of the beginning of his musical life, he does recall his mother telling him that one night around midnight, she and his father were awakened by the sound of the family piano.  She said she went to the parlor to find Wally playing the piano.  He was 3 years old.  It had no conformity to her, but in Wally’s mind, he was totally engrossed in what to him created great musical satisfaction.

In kindergarten, Wally gravitated toward the piano in the classroom.  He says he must have impressed his teacher as one day after class, she took him to the auditorium to show him the 9-1/2 foot concert grand piano.  Wally said he sat at the piano and was so totally captivated with its beautiful sound that he didn’t notice a gentleman had entered the auditorium. He learned later that the gentleman was the school principal who, throughout Wally’s elementary schooling, gave him encouraging compliments. Memories of Wally’s playing continue in Junior High School in Brooklyn where he played clarinet in the school orchestra. The JHS principal urged him to study the string bass as the orchestra was lacking that instrument.  He continued to study and perform on string bass until he graduated.  His mother wanted him to continue his musical studies in high school.  However, at that time, high schools in New York City lacked music departments. Only the High School of Music and Art and the High School of Performing Arts offered music courses. Wally auditioned for the High School of Music and Art and was accepted. That school prepared him well for college. After World War II, he  entered The Manhattan School of Music, under the GI bill, where he majored in piano and graduated in 1952 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. The following year, he returned to earn his Masters Degree with a major in Music Theory and Composition.

In 1958, Mr. Alesse  joined the Guy Lombardo orchestra, performing at the Peter Stuyvesant Hotel in New York City where the television performances were created for New Years Eve. A year later, he left the band to return to college to earn a Masters Degree in Education. In 1962, he  began teaching at the West Babylon Senior High School where he remained until his retirement in 1985.  Mr. Alesse said his years at West Babylon were most rewarding! Working with the music students was a Joy!

Presently, Mr. Alesse is performing in Port Jefferson in the Wave Lounge at Danfords Hotel and Marina. At ninety-one years of age, he is still performing.  Mr. Alesse said he is always surprised when patrons comment “you’re ninety one years old and you’re playing the piano”.  His response “musicians never die they just fade away” always gets a chuckle.