American Pianists Association

American Pianists Association
Formation 1979 (1979)
by Victor Borge, Tony Habig, and Julius Bloom
Purpose Discover, promote and advance the careers of young, American, world-class jazz and classical pianists
Headquarters 4603 Clarendon Road, Suite 030, Indianapolis, IN 46208
Region served
United States
President & CEO/Artistic Director
Joel Harrison
Current Classical Fellow
Sean Chen
Current Jazz Fellow
Sullivan Fortner
Main organ
Board of Directors

The American Pianists Association is a performing arts organization based in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, that holds two national, quadrennial piano competitions in alternating 2-year cycles: the Classical Fellowship Awards and the Jazz Fellowship Awards. Only American citizens ages 18–30 are eligible to compete. The organization hosts a recital series in non-competition years. The Fellowship Awards are among the most lucrative piano prizes in the world, valued at over $100,000.[1]


The association was born in New York City in 1979 as the Beethoven Foundation, conceived by the late Victor Borge, Tony Habig of Kimball International and Julius Bloom, former general manager of Carnegie Hall. Their original intent was to help identify and groom young American pianists to compete in international piano competitions by offering fellowships over a three-year period that included cash awards, concerts and media coverage.[2] It changed its name to The American Pianists Association in 1989 and added a jazz competition in 1992.

In 1982, the Beethoven Foundation moved its national headquarters to Indianapolis, partly because of geographical ties by two of its founders, Habig and Borge. Now the executive offices are a part of the Arts Collaborative housed in Lilly Hall at Butler University. In 1989, the name was changed to American Pianists Association to reflect a broader scope that included jazz pianists, and the mission also has broadened beyond the original purpose.[2]

From 2003 through 2008, the American Pianists Association produced Indy Jazz Fest.[3]

APA has collaborated with the Cultural Programs Division of the U.S. Department of State, which has sponsored Classical and Jazz Fellows, as well as Harrison, in international tours since 2003. All total, they have together or separately visited 10 countries worldwide.[4]


Finalists compete through a series of adjudicated public recitals. The classical competition includes solo piano, chamber music, collaborative vocal, and concerto performances and ends with each finalist performing a concerto with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. The jazz competition includes repertoire for solo piano, jazz trio, vocal jazz, and jazz orchestra.[5]

American Pianists Awards winners

Year Fellow Fellow Fellow
2015 Jazz Sullivan Fortner
2013 Classical Sean Chen
2011 Jazz Aaron Diehl
2009 Classical Grace Fong Adam Golka
2007 Jazz Dan Tepfer
2006 Classical Stephen Beus Spencer Myer
2004 Jazz Adam Birnbaum
2003 Classical Thomas Rosenkranz Michael Sheppard
2001 Jazz Aaron Parks
2000 Classical Christopher Taylor Ning An
1998 Jazz Jesse Green
1997 Classical Derison Duarte Hiroko Kunitake Peter Miyamoto
1996 Jazz Rick Germanson
1995 Classical James Giles Anthony Molinaro J.Y. Song
1994 Jazz Kevin Bales
1993 Classical Adam Kent Nicholas Roth Lori Sims
1992 Jazz Jim Pryor
1991 Classical Timothy Bozarth Anthony Padilla Daniel Shapiro
1989 Classical Jonathan Bass Brian Ganz Stephen Prutsman
1987 Classical Diane Hidy Philip Hosford Nelson Padgett
1985 Classical Frederic Chiu R. Clipper Erickson Dmitry Rachmanov
1983 Classical Phillip Bush John Salmon Michael Lewin
1981 Classical David Buechner Glenn Sales Jonathan Shames



  1. Harvey, Jay. "Florida native Sean Chen named DeHaan Classical Fellow". Indianapolis Star. Retrieved 2013-08-15.
  2. 1 2 "Fellows of the American Pianists Association". American Music Teacher. 54 (4): 39–42. 2005.
  3. "APA History". Retrieved 2013-08-15.
  4. "Making Great Music Together". American Music Teacher. 59 (3): 20–23. 2009.
  5. "Competitions". Retrieved 2013-08-15.
  6. "Former Fellows Page". Retrieved 2013-08-15.
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