10. SUNY Stony Brook – Stony Brook, NY
Notable Faculty: Gilbert Kalish, Christina Dahl
One of the most celebrated solo and chamber pianists living today, Gilbert Kalish’s discography extends to well over 100 classical music recordings, an impressive output that spans from the 1960s to today. Among the most technically gifted pianists of our time, Kalish is noted for performances of the most difficult repertory in the entire world, including works by Elliot Carter, George Crumb, and Charles Ives’ Concord Sonata.
A noted cultural ambassador who has served the US government, Christina Dahl also leads an impressive body of students at this college. While perhaps not as selective as the likes of Juilliard and Curtis, the students at Stony Brook are no less formidable, with many students and alumni being accepted into the most prestigious fellowships, teaching posts, and residencies. If you are a resident of New York, and you are looking for a public state school for piano to save money on tuition, look no further than this “hidden gem” of an internationally classed piano department.
Listen to the Faculty: Check out Gilbert Kalish on this album: Charles Ives: Piano Sonata No. 2 “Concord, Mass. 1840”
9. Rice University Shepherd School of Music – Houston, TX
Notable Faculty: Jeanne Kierman Fischer, Robert Roux, Brian Connelly
A student body comprised of 30-35 or so pianists, Rice’s facilities are among the most luxurious for pianists in the nation. They are a favorite for guest artist appearances throughout the country, with the likes of Emmanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, Andre Watts, and Nelita True coming to the school to present masterclasses and even act as judges to the college’s concerto competition. Some notable faculty include Jeanne Kierman Fisher, who is a major proponent of modern classical music, frequently performing duets with cellist Norman Fischer. The facilities are apparently top-notch, and piano students rarely, if ever, are unable to find a practice room, a common issue for aspiring pianists. Students of the program are occasional soloists with the local Houston Symphony Orchestra, and are prizewinners in international competitions.
8. San Francisco Conservatory – San Francisco, CA
Notable Faculty: Sharon Mann, Mark McCray, Yoshikazu Nagai
Perhaps the finest piano department on the west coast, legendary Bay Area piano teacher Sharon Mann and active soloist Mark McCray lead a formidable group of young and talented pianists at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. One of new classical music’s most accomplished and well-known pianists, Sarah Cahill, is an alumni of this program, as are dozens of other accomplished professionals working today. With about 55 students in the piano program, this could be considered one of the larger piano studios in the nation.
A very intriguing and wonderful benefit of being a piano student at this college is the following: Like at the Curtis Institute of Music, student pianists are loaned a piano for private home usage, free of charge, for the duration of their undergraduate degree. This eliminates the need for student pianists to have to come to the school itself to practice. Combining the excellent faculty, positive alumni statuses, and their piano lending program, SFCM should be a serious choice for any aspiring pianist.
7. Manhattan School of Music
Notable Faculty: Philip Kawin, Jeffrey Cohen
A premiere college for piano performance, the Manhattan School of Music regularly produces piano students that become prominent members of the New York classical music scene. Students of the illustrious faculty go on to notable careers in teaching and performance, being regularly reviewed in top publications such as The New York Times and Time Out New York. Many of the former students at MSM form chamber groups, start music schools, and pursue unique and lucrative career paths with their music degrees.