Yoshikazu Nagai


  • Private Lessons
  • Piano Forum
  • Chamber Music: Strings and Piano


  • DMA studies, Rice University
  • MM, Cleveland Institute of Music
  • BA, University of Puget Sound

What is your hometown?

Born in Germany and raised in the United States, I consider my hometown to be Seattle, Washington.

Who were your major teachers?

John Perry at Rice University (DMA studies), Paul Schenly and Sergei Babayan at the Cleveland Institute of Music (MM, Malvina Podis Prize in Piano), and Duane Hulbert at the University of Puget Sound. Additional studies with Jerome Lowenthal.

What awards and distinctions have you earned?

I received First Prize at the 2002 Washington International Piano Competition, and I've also received prizes at the San Antonio International Piano Competition, Missouri Southern International Piano Competition, New Orleans International Piano Competition, IBLA Grand Prize International Piano Competition, and the Concert Artists Guild International Music Competition. I also serve as adjudicator of international piano competitions and have been a jury member of the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition, World Piano Competition, and Alaska International Piano E-Competition, amongst others.

Where have you performed and what are critics saying about you?

My playing has been praised by audiences and critics for having “fresh interpretations” and a “dramatic presentation style.” In recent seasons, I have performed as soloist and chamber musician throughout Asia, Europe, and America in such venues as Shanghai Concert Hall in China, National Recital Hall in Taiwan, Carnegie Hall and Merkin Concert Hall in New York, the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theatre, the National Gallery and Phillips Collection in Washington D.C., and Seattle's Benaroya Hall. Recent seasons have included recitals in Naples, Seoul, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Beijing, Cincinnati, Chicago, San Francisco, and at music festivals worldwide. 

Where have your performances been broadcasted?

Live performances have been broadcast on National Public Radio's Performance Today, RAI Italian National TV, Hong Kong National Radio RTHK4, and on public radio stations in San Francisco, Houston, Cleveland, and Salt Lake City.

What are some of your recent collaborations?

My recent collaborations have included Mozart piano concertos with the Ives Quartet and chamber music with violinists Robert Mann and Anthony Marwood.

How have you been recognized as a teacher around the world?

I have been recognized by the National Foundation for Advancements in the Arts for excellence in teaching and frequently give master classes at universities and conservatories throughout the United States and Asia, including recent classes at Shanghai Conservatory, Beijing's Central Conservatory, Xinghai Conservatory, Shenzhen Arts School in China, Seoul National University, Seoul Arts School, Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts, Northwestern University, Oberlin Conservatory, and Eastman School of Music.

Could you share some awards your students have won?

I have had the privilege of working with some very gifted pianists here at SFCM. Some of their accomplishments include being top prizewinners of national and international competitions, including the Lev Vlassenko Piano Competition in Australia, Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Piano Competition, Music Teachers National Association Piano Competition, New York International Piano Competition, Hilton Head, Cleveland International Piano Competition for Young Artists, Nina Wideman, International Russian Music, King Award, Missouri Southern, Corpus Christi, Lennox Young Artists, Bösendorfer and Yamaha USASU, Heida Hermanns International Piano Competitions, and the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition.

In addition to being on the piano Faculty at SFCM, do you teach anywhere else?

While currently Professor of Piano and Chair of the Piano Department at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, I teach during the summers at the Amalfi Coast Music Festival in Italy, and "Art of Piano" at the Cincinnati Conservatory. I often travel around the world through Asia, Europe, and the United States as faculty member of various festivals as I enjoy meeting new people and seeing new places.

Other recent summer faculty residencies include the Shanghai and Beijing International Piano Festivals in China, Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina, Pianofest in the Hamptons, Chautauqua, Summit Festivals in New York, Southeastern Piano Festival in South Carolina, and Colburn Academy and Montecito International Music Festival in California. Additionally, I was formerly on the faculty at the Interlochen Arts Academy where I taught piano, piano literature, and chamber music for eight years.

What are you passionate about outside of music?

Photography and enjoying nature.

What is a favorite quote that you repeatedly tell students?

"Nothing is impossible, everything is possible."