In January of this year, I posted an article detailing 10 legendary music professors teaching today.

Here is a follow up…

People are the lifeline of a music school.

Without compelling people, teaching, and their stories, schools are merely vacuous buildings with potential waiting to be tapped.

What’s amazing about music is that many of the great professors teaching today are also active participants in music.

Many professors are Grammy winners, members of symphony orchestras, performers/producers of well-known albums, famous jazz players, or are simply the best at launching students into great careers in music.

Who are some of the most legendary professors teaching today?

In today’s list, we talk about an indisputably legendary pianist and professor of 60 years in Baltimore, a 31-year old jazz guitarist at the top of his field, a Grammy-winning composer, the music director of three legendary organizations, and more.

Without further ado, here are 10 (more) legendary professors teaching today, not ranked in any particular order.


Leon Fleisher

Professor of Piano Performance at Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins

At 90-years old, Leon Fleisher is a historical titan of classical music.

Between 1955-1965, few pianists had a busier performance schedule than Leon Fleisher, then a young wunderkind who traveled all around the world with an exclusive contract from Columbia Records.

Famously, in 1965, he contracted focal dystonia in his right hand, which affected his ability to play piano and concertize. He subsequently became a renowned conductor and interpreter of left-hand piano repertoire.

However, in recent decades, his performance career experienced an unexpected renaissance thanks to modern medical therapies.

Leon Fleisher has been teaching for 60 years at Peabody, beginning his tenure in 1959.

His past students are among the most accomplished pianists performing today.


Michael Daugherty

Professor of Composition at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

photo by Michael Daugherty via Wikimedia Commons

Michael Daugherty’s career launched in the early 1990s with the premiere of his legendary Metropolis Symphony, a work inspired by comic book hero Superman.

Since Metropolis, Michael’s work has taken inspiration from figures and notable places in American popular culture, including Elvis Presley (Dead Elvis featuring a bassoon soloist), Abraham Lincoln (Letters from Lincoln), Route 66 (Route 66), etc.

One of the most performed orchestral composers of his generation, his band arrangements are also widely performed.

Michael has also won two Grammy awards, both for Best Classical Contemporary Composition, in 2011 and 2017.

I did personally study with Michael myself years ago as a student at Michigan, and found him, as well as all the composition faculty there, to be incredibly communicative and knowledgeable of both composition as well as the business of being a successful composer.


Julian Lage

Faculty in Jazz Guitar at San Francisco Conservatory of Music

photo by David Becker via Wikimedia Commons

At age 31, Julian Lage is at the top of jazz, a regular in concerts around the globe playing for sold-out audiences.

He is a favorite sideman of other legendary jazz players, including jazz vibraphonist Gary Burton as well as avant-garde saxophonist John Zorn, having appeared on numerous albums with both artists.

In 2017, his album produced alongside guitarist Chris Eldridge was nominated for a Grammy award.

His teaching career is young, as he has only been with SFCM for a couple of years as of this writing.

You can see a video of his playing here, which has been viewed 1.3 million times: