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Perabo began his musical training at the Leipzig Conservatory with Carl Reinecke, Ignaz Moscheles, and Ernst Richter. In 1852, he immigrated with his family to New York City. From 1885 onwards, Perabo lived in Boston, where he led a career as a pianist, composer, and music teacher. He gave private lessons: his most famous student, who studied with him from 1876 through 1882, was the pianist and composer Amy Beach. He also taught at the New England Conservatory.
Besides original compositions for the piano (including one Scherzo; three Studies; Pensées; and Prelude, Romance und Toccatina), he wrote numerous transcriptions of and fantasies on operas and orchestral works.
- Block, Adrienne Fried, Amy Beach: Passionate Victorian, Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 15, 23
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