2009 Teacher of the Year - John Ruggero


John Ruggero has had a multi-faceted career in music as a pianist, composer, teacher and writer. As a teacher, he has specialized in helping serous pianists solve the technical problems that impede free musical expression. His book A Path to Piano Mastery explains his innovative approach to piano technique.

The son of a professional musician and teacher, John moved from New York City to Raleigh in 1953. He received his B.A. (Phi Beta Kappa) from Duke University, studying with Loren Withers and Iain Hamilton. While at Duke, he appeared as soloist with the Triangle and Duke Symphonies and was the state winner of the MTNA Collegiate Piano Competition. He received his M.S. in Piano Performance from the Juilliard School as a scholarship student of Erwin Freundlich. After graduating from Juilliard, he worked with Arnold Arnstein, music editor and copyist for Copland, Bernstein, Corigliano, Ginestera and others. During this period of introspection and experimentation, John sought and eventually found a new, natural and logical approach to piano playing and teaching.


After returning to Raleigh to teach privately and at Duke University, he appeared as soloist in highly praised performances with various orchestras including the North Carolina Symphony. A much sought-after ensemble pianist, he co-directed several chamber music ensembles (The North Carolina Chamber Players, Aurora Musicalis, Melange), presented concerts at prestigious venues around the state and gave world premieres of works by Iain Hamilton, Robert Ward and J. Mark Scearce. He also established his own concert series, Overtones. Several of his performances received Best Concert of the Year awards from RTP’s Independent Magazine.


John’s students are noted for their musicality, musical maturity and technical ease. They have won many local, state and national awards and scholarships including prizes at the ECU Piano Competition, the Bartok-Kabalevsky-Prokofiev Competition and the American Protégé International Competition. One student, Sergiy Komirenko, was the national winner of both the MTNA Junior and Senior High School Piano Competitions. His students have given more than 70 performances as soloists with state orchestras including the NC Symphony. They are regularly accepted into important national and international music festivals, competitions, chamber music programs, and master classes. Many have continued their musical education at institutions such as the Juilliard School, Indiana University, the Manhattan School of Music, Peabody Conservatory and Oberlin College.


John’s many original compositions, arrangements and urtext editions are published by Cantilena Press.