Faculty - Hero - Nakumatsu

"Jon Nakamatsu plays with the calm assurance that comes from having both a solid technique and a gentle, introspective interpretive spirit." -The New York Times


  • Private Lessons


  • MA, Stanford University
  • BA, Stanford University


  • Gold Medal, 1997 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition
  • Gold Medal, 1995 United States National Chopin Piano Competition

What is your hometown?

San Jose, CA

What is your favorite recording?

Ignaz Friedman's 1936 recording of Chopin's E-flat Major Nocturne, Op. 55, No. 2.

Who were your major teachers?

Marina Derryberry, Karl Ulrich Schnabel, and Leonard Stein (theory and composition).

What question do you wish students would ask sooner rather than later?

“What is the performer's life REALLY like?”

What was a turning point in your career?

The obvious answer would be the Van Cliburn Competition in 1997, but actually, two years earlier I won the United States National Chopin Piano Competition in Miami, Florida. This opened performance and publicity doors for me that were previously closed, and put me on the "competition winners' map" prior to entering the Van Cliburn.

If you weren't a musician or teacher, what do you think you would be doing now?

I'm sure I would be enjoying music somewhere, but most likely as an academic teaching literature or linguistics!

What is your daily practice routine?

I wouldn't say I have a daily routine anymore, as travel and concert schedules prohibit a "normal" day. I practice anywhere from zero to nine hours per day. On the extra long days, I break up the work in no more than three hour increments. I find it increasingly more beneficial to rest both body and mind in conjunction with heavy practicing.

If you could play only three composers for the rest of your life, who would they be?

Bach, Mozart, and Brahms.

What are your most important collaborations?

Manasse/Nakamatsu Duo; Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet (multiple tours); Tokyo String Quartet (tours and recording).