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Although he played violin and piano in dance bands after graduating from high school, WALTER PISTON joined the U.S. Navy band as a saxophonist (self-taught) during World War I, and taught himself most other wind instruments. In 1920 he entered Harvard, where he subsequently taught for 36 years; his students included Leroy Anderson, Leonard Bernstein, Elliott Carter, John Harbison, and Conlon Nancarrow.

After graduation and before returning to Harvard to teach, Piston went to Paris, where he studied composition with Nadia Boulanger and Paul Dukas, and violin with George Enescu. 

— John Henken