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The history of the KU Piano Area is also a musical history of the state of Kansas itself. The first KU Dean of Fine Arts, William MacDonald, was a pianist who established the Department of Music in 1884 as well as founder and first president of the Kansas Music Teachers Association. In 1923 Donald Swarthout, a pianist and conductor, was appointed Dean of Fine Arts until 1950 and served as President of the Music Teachers National Association and Director of the KU Concert & Chamber Series, which became the foundation of the arts programming for the Lied Center. The appointment of the renowned composer and pianist Carl A. Preyer in 1903 marked the beginning of a distinguished roster of musicians who have served as faculty members of the KU Division of Piano.

A list of former faculty members since 1934 includes Jane Abbott, Dennis Alexander, Richard Angeletti, Jan Chiapusso, Leon Fleisher, Malcolm Frager, Claude Frank, Thomas Gorton, Gary Graffman, Christopher Hepp, Byron Janis, Stephen Kort, Roy Hamlin Johnson, Robert Koenig, John Perry, Menachem Pressler, Carole Ross, Angelica Morales von Sauer, Ramon Salvatore, Flora Silini, Martha Stacey, Nelita True, and Robert Ward.


The University of Kansas has graduated many piano students whose career aspirations have led them to musical success in professional, business and academic venues.

Events & Programs

Every year piano students, faculty, alumni and guest artists enjoy several events and programs unique to KU Piano. Current and past events are listed below.


Lied Center Concerto Performance

Photo of the Lied CenterAll undergraduate and graduate piano majors with the recommendation of a member of the KU piano faculty perform a complete concerto movement with the KU Symphony Orchestra in the beautiful Lied Center». This unique opportunity for KU piano majors has been an annual event since 1997 thanks to a generous gift from Dave and Gunda Hiebert». Dr. and Mrs. Hiebert were the recipients of the Phoenix Award for outstanding contribution to the Arts in Lawrence and have been longtime supporters of the KU piano programs.

International Institute for Young Musicians

IIYM Piano EventUnder the direction of KU alumnus Scott McBride Smith, the IIYM» brings its prestigious Summer Music Academy to the University of Kansas campus each summer since 1993. The three-week intensive program features performances at the Lied Center and attracts talented piano and string students from around the globe to work with some of the most accomplished music educators in the country, including several of KU's own faculty members. Former IIYM students have received prizes in the most important international competitions, such as the Van Cliburn, the Chopin, the Gina Bachauer and the Music Teachers National Association.


2000: The History of the American Matthay Association

Roster of Presenters: John Kenneth Adams, Steve Clark, Stewart Gordon, Donald Hageman, Christopher Hepp, Kenneth Huber, George Loring, Aiko Onishi, Stephen Siek, Dan Franklin Smith, Elizabeth Vandeander, John Williams.

1998: Happy 70th Birthday, Leon Fleisher!

Roster of Presenters: Gregory Allen, Julie Bees, Brian Ganz, Enrique Graf, Gary Graffman, Sylvia Henry, Lilian Kallir, Leon Kirchener, Mona Golabek, Virginia Marks, Danielle Martin, Julian Martin, Linda Maxey, Tim Page, David Pocock, Mark Puckett, Ann Schein, Sandra Shapiro, Peter Takacs, John Tibbets, Nelita True, David Allen Wehr, Robert Weirich, Yael Weiss.

1997: The Pianist in Ensemble

Roster of Presenters: Richard Chronister, Maurice Hinson, Thomas Hecht & Sandra Shapiro, Robert Pace, Ruth Slencszynska, Rita Sloan, Dallas Weekley & Nancy Argabright, David Allen Wehr

1996: Nurturing Youth…Nurturing Talent

Roster of Presenters: Jane Allen, Gail Berenson, Suzanne Guy, Christopher Hepp, Melanie Hadley, Ruth Laredo, Lee Luvisi, Roger Price, Scott McBridge Smith, Bryan Wallick.

1995: Preparing for the 21st Century

Roster of Presenters: Angela Cheng, Stewart Gordon, Suzanne Guy, David Karp, Dawn Miller, Richard Reber, Nelita True, Ralph Votapek.

1994: A Great School…

Roster of Presenters: Angela Cheng, Blair Chotzinoff, Stewart Gordon, Christopher Hepp, Maurice Hinson, Jane Magrath, Ann Schein, James Tocco, Jack Winerock.

1992: The Legacy of the University of Kansas

Roster of Presenters: Dennis Alexander, Richard Angeletti, Claude Frank, Stewart Gordon, Evelyn Swarthout Hayes, Anne Koscielnyi, John Perry, Richard Reber, Roslyn Tureck, Delores Stevens, Nelita True.

Singapore Exchange

Singapore ExchangeThe Division of Piano began negotiations in 1997 to establish an exchange agreement with the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts» in Singapore that would provide for NAFA students to enroll for two years of study at KU toward completion of a BM or MM degree. Three years later the KU School Fine Arts and NAFA completed that agreement. Future goals include opportunities for KU faculty and students to perform and participate in special artist master-classes in Singapore.

School of Music Calendar
Music students present hundreds of public concerts every year
Students perform in KU choirs, concert bands, pep bands, ensembles, symphony orchestra, and jazz combos
The school owns one of the greatest jazz record collections in the world
KU Wind Ensemble performed the world premiere of the symphony "In the Shadow of No Towers" at Carnegie Hall
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.