Jon Nakamatsu
Jon Yasuhiro Nakamatsu is a Japanese American
Japanese American
are American people of Japanese heritage. Japanese Americans have historically been among the three largest Asian American communities, but in recent decades have become the sixth largest group at roughly 1,204,205, including those of mixed-race or mixed-ethnicity...

 classical pianist  who still resides in San Jose but mostly performs away from home. He is the son of David Y. Nakamatsu (San Jose engineer) and Karen F. Maeda Nakamatsu (city employee).

In June 1997 Nakamatsu won the Gold Medal at the Tenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition
Van Cliburn International Piano Competition
The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition was first held in 1962 in Fort Worth, Texas and is hosted by Van Cliburn Foundation. It was created by Fort Worth area teachers in honor of Van Cliburn, who had won the first International Tchaikovsky Competition four years prior with Tchaikovsky's...

 in Fort Worth, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Fort Worth is the 16th-largest city in the United States of America and the fifth-largest city in the state of Texas. Located in North Central Texas, just southeast of the Texas Panhandle, the city is a cultural gateway into the American West and covers nearly in Tarrant, Parker, Denton, and...

. He is the first American to win this prize since 1981. Right after the competition, he quit his job as a high school German teacher to pursue a career as a classical pianist. He did not attend a music conservatory or major in music while he attended college and graduate school.

During the summer of 2005, Nakamatsu toured with the San Jose Youth Symphony
San Jose Youth Symphony
The San Jose Youth Symphony is a non-profit youth orchestra located in San Jose, California.SJYS was founded in the year 1951. It was originally part of the San Jose Symphony as the San Jose Symphony Youth Orchestra...

 in Spain, performing the Rachmaninoff
Sergei Rachmaninoff
Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff was a Russian composer, pianist, and conductor. Rachmaninoff is widely considered one of the finest pianists of his day and, as a composer, one of the last great representatives of Romanticism in Russian classical music...

 Piano Concerto No. 2
Piano Concerto No. 2 (Rachmaninoff)
The Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18, is a concerto for piano and orchestra composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff between the autumn of 1900 and April 1901. The second and third movements were first performed with the composer as soloist on 2 December 1900...

, and in June 2007, he toured with the Peninsula Youth Orchestra to Budapest
Budapest is the capital of Hungary. As the largest city of Hungary, it is the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre. In 2011, Budapest had 1,733,685 inhabitants, down from its 1989 peak of 2,113,645 due to suburbanization. The Budapest Commuter...

, Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

, and Teplice
Teplice , Teplice-Šanov until 1948 is a town in the Czech Republic, the capital of the Teplice District in the Ústí nad Labem Region. It is the state's second largest spa town ....

 playing the same piece. During the summer of 2008, he also toured with the Stanford Symphony Orchestra to China, playing Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue."


  • Studied piano privately with Marina Derryberry since age 6 (1974).
  • Graduated from Prospect High School
    Prospect High School (California)
    Prospect High School is a four-year comprehensive public high school of the Campbell Union High School District, located at the intersection of Lawrence Expressway and Prospect Road in the northeastern corner of Saratoga, California, on its border with San Jose. It serves northern Saratoga, the...

    , Saratoga, California, 1986
  • A.A. Associate of Arts degree, Foothill College
    Foothill College
    Foothill College is a community college located in Los Altos Hills, California and is part of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District. It was founded on January 15, 1957 by Founding Superintendent and President Dr. Calvin C. Flint.-History:...

     (community college), Los Altos Hills, California, 2000 (officially awarded long after degree requirements met)
  • B.A. Bachelor of Arts degree in German Studies, Stanford University
    Stanford University
    The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

    , California, 1991
  • M.A. Master of Arts degree in Education, Stanford University School of Education
    Stanford University School of Education
    The Stanford University School of Education , is one of the seven schools of Stanford University. It is the second-oldest school of education in the United States, after NYU...

    , California, 1992


  • May–June 2007: Regular Jury member, Fifth International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs, Fort Worth, Texas
  • 2006-current: Co-Artistic Director of Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival (with Jon Manasse)
  • June 2000: Regular Jury member (preliminaries only), Second International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs, Fort Worth, Texas
  • June 1999: Regular Jury member (all three rounds), First International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs, Fort Worth, Texas
  • 1997–current: Full-time pianist
  • 1991–1997: German language
    German language
    German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

     teacher at Saint Francis High School
    Saint Francis High School (Mountain View)
    Saint Francis High School, founded in 1954 by the Brothers of Holy Cross, is a Roman Catholic, co-educational, college preparatory secondary school located in Mountain View, CA. The Brothers of Holy Cross serve both on the faculty and on the Board of Directors...

     in Mountain View, California
    Mountain View, California
    -Downtown:Mountain View has a pedestrian-friendly downtown centered on Castro Street. The downtown area consists of the seven blocks of Castro Street from the Downtown Mountain View Station transit center in the north to the intersection with El Camino Real in the south...

     and part-time pianist.


venue date
Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is a Canadian orchestra performing in Vancouver, British Columbia. Over 240,000 people attend its live performances each year. It was founded in 1930 and plays in 12 venues. Its home is the Orpheum theatre. With an annual operating budget of $9.5 million, it is the...

22 May 2009


  • Named Debut Artist of the Year in 1998 by National Public Radio’s Performance Today
  • Was featured in Reader's Digest
    Reader's Digest
    Reader's Digest is a general interest family magazine, published ten times annually. Formerly based in Chappaqua, New York, its headquarters is now in New York City. It was founded in 1922, by DeWitt Wallace and Lila Bell Wallace...

    in June 1998
  • Has been profiled on CBS Sunday Morning


compact discs
title label date catalog number notes
1. Tenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, Jon Nakamatsu, Gold Medalist Harmonia Mundi June 1997 HMU 907218 (CD)
2. Chopin Selected Works Harmonia Mundi October 1998 HMU 907244 (CD)
3. Lukas Foss
Lukas Foss
Lukas Foss was a German-born American composer, conductor, and pianist.-Music career:He was born Lukas Fuchs in Berlin, Germany in 1922. His father was the philosopher and scholar Martin Fuchs...

, Piano Concertos, Elegy for Anne Frank
Harmonia Mundi April 2001 HMU 907243 (CD) out of print
4. Sergei Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 3, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Jon Nakamatsu, piano
Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra
Christopher Seaman, conductor
Harmonia Mundi September 2001 HMU 907286 (CD)
HMU 807286 (hybrid SACD/CD)
5. Wölfl, 4 Piano Sonatas, Piano Sonatos Op. 25 & 33 Harmonia Mundi November 2003 HMU 907324 (CD)
6. Brahms, Piano Sonata, No. 3 in F minor, Op. 5 Harmonia Mundi October 2004 HMU 907339 (CD)
7. Franz Liszt, The Dante Sonata & other works Harmonia Mundi 14 November 2006 HMU 907409 (CD)
8. George Gershwin: Piano Concerto in F, Rhapsody in Blue, Cuban Overture
Jon Nakamatsu, piano
Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra
Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra
The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra is an American orchestra based in the city of Rochester, Monroe County, New York. Its primary concert venue is the Eastman Theatre at the Eastman School of Music....

Jeff Tyzik
Jeff Tyzik
Jeff Tyzik is an American conductor, arranger, and trumpeter from Rochester, New York, working primarily with orchestral and jazz styles.-Education:Tyzik, born in Hyde Park, New York, started playing cornet at age 9...

, conductor
Harmonia Mundi 8 May 2007 HMU 807441 (hybrid SACD
Super Audio CD
Super Audio CD is a high-resolution, read-only optical disc for audio storage. Sony and Philips Electronics jointly developed the technology, and publicized it in 1999. It is designated as the Scarlet Book standard. Sony and Philips previously collaborated to define the Compact Disc standard...


Billboard (magazine)
Billboard is a weekly American magazine devoted to the music industry, and is one of the oldest trade magazines in the world. It maintains several internationally recognized music charts that track the most popular songs and albums in various categories on a weekly basis...

 top classical albums
issue daterank
13 October 2007not ranked in top 15
6 October 200715
29 September 200714
22 September 200710
15 September 20078
8 September 20074
1 September 20074
25 August 20077
18 August 20073
11 August 20077
4 August 200712
28 July 20079
21 July 20079
14 July 20079
7 July 20078
30 June 200711
23 June 200713
16 June 200721
9. Johannes Brahms: Sonatas Op. 120 Number 1 in F minor and Number 2 in E-flat major for clarinet and piano with Jon Manasse, clarinet Harmonia Mundi 8 January 2008 HMU907430 (CD)

Nakamatsu is featured in the documentary movie "Playing with Fire": The Tenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, which aired on PBS television and is available on DVD.


award competition location date
Gold Medalist ($20,000) Tenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Fort Worth, Texas June 1997 (quadrennial)
First Prize Fifth U.S. National Chopin Piano Competition Miami, Florida 1995

External links

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