Steven Spooner

Professor, Piano
Primary office:
312 Murphy Hall


“Such a breadth and variety of difficult pieces made me wonder at first if this (Dedications box set) was a hoax. But, no, the DVD proves that Steven Spooner is the real deal, a pianist of apparently limitless raw technique that’s almost note perfect.” “He might be the best faculty pianist I’ve heard”


“His performances evidence Richter’s peerless focus, Gilels’s gold-plated sound, Cliburn’s urbane aesthetics, and Horowitz’s outgoing personality and his occasional tendency to play to the gallery.” “The performances of Brahms’s Fantasies op. 116 and selections from Grieg’s Lyric Pieces are simply to die for.” “I have to say that not only is Spooner a phenomenal pianist, he is also a compelling entertainer in the best sense of the word. He draws the audience in not just with his spell-binding music-making but with his magnetic personality.”


“This is a huge, laudable project in which pianist Steven Spooner plays recitals of repertoire associated with pianistic deities. Arensky’s rarely heard Elegie is gloriously shaded while Spooner’s own input comes in the form of his Concert Etude for Vladimir Horowitz (on music by Queen).” “Special is the disc of Schubert/Liszt Lieder (tenderly done) and Liszt’s Legend No. 2, a performance of terrific power.” “This is a fascinating collection with an intriguing spread of repertoire.”


“Anything added to Steven Spooner’s dazzling, blurry-handed
sweeps of the entire piano would have been dizzying.”


“Steven Spooner has produced a magnum opus, in his huge set of 16 cds, on the label A Life of Music.  This recording includes his own 2014 Concert Etude for HOROWITZ-a delightful piece of high-wire virtuosity.  It should be noted that Steven Spooner’s audio liner notes are revealing and full of pianistic lore. He takes his humble and proud place in the great traditions of world pianism.”
- David Dubal, Author of the Art of the Piano


At the very forefront of American pianists, critics and audiences have unanimously hailed the distinctive and compelling performances of pianist Steven Spooner. “Such a breadth and variety of difficult pieces made me wonder at first if this (recording) was a hoax (Dedications box set). But, no, the DVD proves that Steven Spooner is the real deal, a pianist of apparently limitless raw technique that’s almost note perfect.” “He might be the best faculty pianist I’ve heard” American Record Guide.

Passionately devoted to the solo recital as a platform for innovation, he has been engaged and often re-engaged at prestigious venues such as the Salle Cortot in Paris, the Shanghai Concert Hall, Budapest’s Great Hall of the Liszt Academy, New York’s Carnegie Hall, Rome’s Santa Cecilia, and Singapore’s Esplanade.

During the past seasons he has daringly reinvented the solo recital by allowing audiences to vote on the spot for one of five programs he has prepared and like golden age pianists, his programs often feature his own glittering arrangements and compositions. This season he will perform the cycle of Beethoven Sonatas in a series of fascinating lecture-recitals in addition to duo performances with renowned pianist Sergei Babayan.

In 2016 he released a monumental project of 16 CDs honoring his heroes of the Russian School called Dedications. This mammoth project was met with enormous critical acclaim from all over the globe. His enthusiasm for new music has produced an ongoing collaboration with renowned Deutsche Grammophon composer, Mohammed Fairouz (commissioned by the ROKI Foundation) to premiere and record several of his works during the next few seasons. His latest recording project with David Dubal, explores the many facets of the Liszt repertoire.

Steven is prizewinner at each of the seven international piano competitions he has entered and top prizewinner at both the Hilton Head International Piano Competition and the Artlivre International Piano Competition. He captured First Prize and was recipient of the Niekamp Career Grant as most outstanding pianist in French music at the Paris Conservatory. In 2008, he was awarded the Ivory Classics Foundation Prize that enabled him to apprentice with the legendary virtuoso Earl Wild.

Steven is an active collaborator and performs with a diverse and distinguished list of musicians including, the Borromeo Quartet, Pianist Sergei Babayan, Violinist Renaud Capuçon, Silk Road Ensemble Bassist Daxun Zhang, Philadelphia Orchestra Trombonist M. Dee Stewart, and Baritone Chris Thompson. Steven has released more than 30 recordings on the Naxos, A Life of Music, and other recording labels. He has studied at the Moscow and Tbilisi Conservatories in the former Soviet Union, and Indiana University, Bloomington. His teachers have included Earl Wild, the great Georgian pianist Nodar Gabunia, Karen Shaw, Logan Skelton, Edmund Battersby, and he has coached with such prominent musicians such as Tatiana Nikolayeva, Viktor Merzhanov, and Emile Naoumoff.

Steven has served as guest artist-in-residence at Paris Conservatory Summer Sessions and has been appointed to the artist faculty of many of the leading summer festivals such as the Colburn Music Academy, Amalfi Coast Music Festival, Musicfest Perugia, the International Institute for Young Musicians, the Adam Gyorgy Castle Academy in Budapest, and even his own Steven Spooner Inspire Festival in Singapore. He has just been appointed Artistic Director of the Chicago International Music Competition and Festival.

Steven is increasingly in demand for his masterclasses at major music institutions all over the world such as the Paris Conservatory, Milan Conservatory, Liszt Academy of Music, and the Shanghai and Beijing Conservatories and in America at Rice, Indiana, Colburn, Oberlin, and many others. Steven serves on the piano faculty at the University of Kansas and is the winner of the 2014 Scholarly Achievement Award given to faculty members who enhance the university’s international reputation.

A dedicated and caring teacher of students from around the world, Steven’s pupils have been named winners of multiple prizes at important international and national piano competitions and enjoy performing careers of their own. Steven’s students have been accepted at the nation’s top universities and conservatories including Juilliard, Eastman, Peabody, Manhattan School of Music, Cleveland Institute of Music, Oberlin Conservatory, San Francisco Conservatory, University of Southern California, University of Michigan, Indiana University and attended important institutions abroad such as Fulbright winners to the Liszt Academy in Budapest, the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki and the St, Petersburg Conservatory in Russia.

Current and former students are top prizewinners of national and international competitions such as the 2018 Metropolitan International Competition, 2017 Dallas Eisenmann International Competition, 2017 San Jose International Competition, 2017 Paderewski International Competition, 2016 Yakov Flier International Competition, the 2017 Oberlin Cooper Competition, 2016 Kaufmann International Piano Competition, 2015 Washington International Piano Competition, 2013 and 2011 International Institute for Young Musicians International Piano Competition, Finalists at the MTNA Young Artist Competition, 2009 Poland Summer Festival International Piano Competition, as well as participants at the International Liszt Competition in both Utrecht and Weimar, and the Schumann International Competition in Zwickau.

Steven Spooner is a Steinway Artist


The Washington Post

Review of the American Liszt Society National Festival. 5/2008
"At the same time, there was already plenty to listen to -- and watch -- during a performance Saturday at Catholic University's Hartke Theatre of the composer's transcription of Schubert's "Erlkoenig." Anything added to Steven Spooner's dazzling, blurry-handed sweeps of the entire piano would have been dizzying."

The Breslau News

"The competition (The International Liszt Competition) on Thursday afternoon was ruled by the very professional, serious, and beautiful performance of Steven Spooner from the U.S.A. His playing was thought through to the finest detail from the beginning to its perfect conclusion. His Transcendental Etudes, Wilde Jagd and Harmonies du Soir were virtuosic and emotionally stirring. The Schubert Serenade in Liszt's transcription was both lyrical and clearly conceived."

Savannah Times

Review of Hilton Head International Piano Competition winner's recital. 10/25/1996
"American Steven Spooner had everything: polished technique, musical intelligence, innate sensitivity, and a personality that reaches across the keyboard. Spooner's Scarlatti (Dominico, Sonatas K. 213 and 184) were perfectly sketched pieces of understatement highlighting the 26-year-old's clarity, sensitivity and simplicity of statement. But Spooner has plenty of what Maestro Claudio Abbado calls the Big Utterance. Spooner used pedal technique rather than force to coax immense sound, achieving dense volume from the middle voice, and a growling resonance in the low voice. Accuracy was commendable throughout."

The Herald Times

Review of all Liszt concert. 11/13/2002
"Spooner, victor in the Liszt Competition in Russia, took on music of what was referred to as the 'virtuoso Liszt,' music of the composer as a young man...There were flourishes galore and chordal clusters and runs and resounding climaxes...One heard phenomenally agile pianism along with temperamentally sensitive musicianship."

The Herald Times

Review of duo concert with violinist Leor Maltinski. 8/6/2002
"Following a break, Maltinski turned to Beethoven and Franck. The Beethoven A Minor Sonata for Violin and Piano, Opus 23, brought forth an appropriate energy mixed with reserve. From both the violinist and pianist Steven Spooner one heard a warmth of touch and temperament that gave the sonata just the right adornment. Here was well-executed Beethoven." "The Franck Sonata in A Major sounded just as embracing Sunday as it did Friday. What a delicious musical confection it is, and what a test for both instrumentalists. Maltinski's interpretation was a winning one, generous in floating tones as well as flaming passage work, where called for. In total, his reading - beautifully complemented by Spooner - left a dreamy impression, almost other worldly in nature."

Carolina Morning News

Review of Hilton Head International Piano Competition winner's recital. 10/1996
"Louisiana-born Steven Spooner, 26, rounded out the program with enchanting interpretations of two Sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti--some of the most interesting pianistic characterizations of these harpsichord compositions one is apt to encounter... enchanting."

Emile Naoumoff

Concert pianist, Sony recording artist, composer, Associate Prof. Indiana University
"It is an honor and almost a duty for me to be able to fully recommend Steven Spooner. He is among more than the top 1% of his generation as an auspicious pianist, musician, scholar. His stage presence is striking, his ear and his fingers have an amazing complicity. He has the enlighted touch of a Lipatti, the power of a Richter, both mental and physical, the articulation of Michelangeli...he becomes 'one' with the instrument, carving the sounds into meaningful rests as well. He is an inspiration to all of us around him."

Viktor Merzhanov

Concert pianist, Professor, Moscow Conservatory, from letter of recommendation, 2002.
"His performance possesses the deep understanding of the contents of Liszt's works, organic and instinctive feeling of form and outstanding virtuosity. His programs for the first and second rounds of the competition were very demanding, requiring not only technical perfection but the ability to create colorful artistic images. The crystal-clear enunciation of each tone and the feeling of phrasal climaxes and structure are also worth mentioning. All of the above made Mr. Spooner's playing very memorable. His pianistic art must attract more attention from concert organizers around the world."


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Etude-Toccata (a la Argerich) (From Missouri Fine Arts Academy Summer Festival, 2006)

Mozart Sonata K. 330, I (University of Idaho, 2005)

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