“He has stunning technical control and can do anything at the piano he wants.”

--The New York Times


Christian Steiner


For well over a decade American pianist Jon Nakamatsu has been heard throughout the United States, Europe and Asia as a concerto soloist, solo recitalist, and chamber collaborator of extraordinary musical powers. Most notably he has performed to universal critical acclaim in such venues as New York’s Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., and in such cities as Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Paris, London, Berlin, and Milan.

In the fall of the 2013-14 season, Mr. Nakamatsu performs as soloist with the Fort Worth Symphony, the Cape Cod Symphony, with the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Ensemble at the Berlin Philharmonic, the Marin Symphony and the Spokane Symphony, as well as in recital in New Mexico, the Bay Area and Rhode Island. At the start of 2014 Mr. Nakamatsu will be appearing with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, the Sarasota Orchestra, the Topeka Symphony, the Springfield Symphony, and in recital in Georgia, California and Dallas, Texas. In the beginning of March Mr. Nakamatsu will perform with the Jupiter String Quartet at the Soka Performing Arts Center before going on tour with clarinetist Jon Manasse as part of the celebrated Manasse/Nakamatsu Duo from March until early April. In May Mr. Nakamatsu will travel to Brazil to perform with the Filarmônica de Minas Gerais at the Grand Teatro do Palácio das Artes, and will return to California to perform his signature Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Symphony Silicon Valley.

Highlights of Mr. Nakamatsu’s 2012-13 season included guest soloist engagements with the Rochester Philharmonic, Des Moines Symphony, the El Paso Symphony, the Stanford Symphony and the Baltimore Symphony. In recital he was heard in Pittsburgh, Rockford, IL, and Fresno, CA. He was also featured in the 2013 Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center in August. As part of the Manasse Nakamatsu Duo with clarinetist Jon Manasse, Mr. Nakamatsu toured the United States in the spring of 2013. Mr. Nakamatsu also joined Mr. Manasse in a concert presented by Music of the Spheres in New York in February 2013.

During the 2010-11 season Mr. Nakamatsu , an idiomatic interpreter of Chopin’s music, performed a Chopin Bicentenary recital (2010) at Philharmonic Hall in Warsaw, and at the 2010 Beijing International Piano Festival. In July 2011 he was heard in recital on the prestigious Masters Series of the International Keyboard Institute & Festival in New York City.

In April 2011 Mr. Nakamatsu was heard in recital at the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Allan Kozinn, critic of The New York Times described Mr. Nakamatsu’s mastery of his instrument in the following terms:

The pianist Jon Nakamatsu plays with the calm assurance that comes of having both a solid technique and a gentle, introspective, interpretive spirit. Mr. Nakamatsu played works that demand both a graceful, singing quality and assertive muscularity, and he delivered as fully in the virtuosic passages as in the lyrical ones. Chopin’s Andante Spianato et Grande Polonaise Brillante (Op. 22) also showed Mr. Nakamatsu at his most vigorous; the finale of the Polonaise, in particular, was dazzling. Yet, as exciting as his most forceful playing was, he was at his most engaging in music that required a more supple and variegated touch. He couched the Andante of the Brahms in soft hues that illuminated the score’s complex heart, and his readings of Liszt’s “Three Petrarch Sonnets” (as well as the Schumann-Liszt “Widmung,”) offered as his first encore) were shapely and poetic, with lithe top lines sailing over gauzy accompaniments. (April 2011)

Mr. Nakamatsu has been an active guest soloist with leading orchestras throughout his career; among them the orchestras of Dallas, Detroit, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Rochester, San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, Berlin, Milan, and Tokyo. He has collaborated with such esteemed conductors as James Conlon, Philippe Entremont, Marek Janowski, Raymond Leppard, Gerard Schwarz, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Michael Tilson Thomas and Osmo Vänskä. In February of 2010, he was the featured soloist for the highly acclaimed American tour of the Berlin-based Philharmonie der Nationen, conducted by Justus Franz, performing Brahms’s First Piano Concerto and Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto in twelve cities nationwide.

Numerous summer engagements have included appearances at the Aspen, Tanglewood, Ravinia, Caramoor, Vail, Wolftrap, and Britt festivals. In 1999, Mr. Nakamatsu performed at the White House at the special invitation of President and Mrs. Clinton.

Among the many chamber ensembles with which Mr. Nakamatsu has collaborated are the Brentano, Jupiter, Miami, Tokyo, Prazak, St. Lawrence, and Ying String Quartets. He also tours frequently with the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet and in 2008 debuted on the Philharmonic’s chamber music series performing with the Quintet and members of the orchestra. Together with the acclaimed clarinetist Jon Manasse, Mr. Nakamatsu tours regularly as part of the Manasse/Nakamatsu Duo. In 2008, the Duo released its first CD (Brahms Sonatas for Clarinet and Piano) which received the highest praise from The New York Times Classical Music Editor James R. Oestreich, who named it a “Best of the Year” choice for 2008. Their latest CD (American Music for Clarinet and Piano) released in 2010 has also garnered international rave reviews. Mr. Nakamatsu and Mr. Manasse also serve as Artistic Directors of the esteemed Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival, founded by pianist Samuel Sanders in 1979.

Mr. Nakamatsu records exclusively for harmonia mundi USA, which has released ten CDs to date, all to high critical praise. His recent all-Gershwin recording with Jeff Tyzig and the Rochester Philharmonic featuring Rhapsody in Blue and the Concerto in F rose to number three on Billboard’s classical music charts. Mr. Nakamatsu’s disc of Brahms solo piano music drew the following from Gary Lemco of Audiophile Audition: “The two intermezzi and E-flat Rhapsody remind me of Rubinstein’s way with these sleek, economical and wistful pieces, with the optimistic, extroverted display saved for the last. Both Brahmsians and Nakamatsu collectors will want this one.” (November 2004).

For his 2011-12 season Lincoln Center presented Mr. Nakamatsu in an all-Liszt recital on its ‘Great Performers” series in New York City. His busy touring schedule takes him throughout the United States in recital, as concerto soloist and as collaborative artist for many of the most prestigious series and festivals.

A high school teacher of German with no formal conservatory training, Mr. Nakamatsu’s electrifying performance of Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto won him the Gold Medal at the 1997 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition amidst a field of experienced competition warriors. Jon Nakamatsu studied privately with the late Marina Derryberry from the age of six, and worked with Karl Ulrich Schnabel, son of the great pianist Artur Schnabel. He has also studied composition and orchestration with Dr. Leonard Stein of the Schoenberg Institute at the University of Southern California, and pursued extensive studies in chamber music and musicology. Mr. Nakamatsu is a graduate of Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in German Studies and a master’s degree in Education.