Piano History

Close-up, centered photo of male presenting person playing piano with keys reflected in glasses.

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
  • Richard Reber
  • Carole Ross
  • Angelica Morales von Sauer
  • Ramon Salvatore
  • Flora Silini
  • Martha Stacey
  • Nelita True
  • Robert Ward
  • Jack Winerock


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