In a role that would seem to dictate deference and reserve, John Wustman, widely hailed as the leading keyboard accompanist of his generation, has achieved a level of success rarely attained by piano soloists. The list of major singers he's accompanied in recital is almost endless: Luciano Pavarotti, Renata Scotto, Mirella Freni, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Régine Crespin, Christa Ludwig, Birgit Nilsson, Carlo Bergonzi, and Nicolai Gedda, to mention just a few. Not surprisingly, Wustman has appeared at major concert venues, like Carnegie Hall, more times than most of the singers he's accompanied. He shared a Grand Prix du Disque with Russian mezzo Irina Arkhipova for their recording of Mussorgsky and Rachmaninov songs. Wustman has been on the faculty at the University of Illinois since 1968 and has held several other important educational posts. Wustman has also made numerous arrangements of operatic arias, songs, and other vocal repertory. He has appeared on many recordings, for a variety of labels, including Decca, DG, EMI, Sony, and Telarc.
John Wustman was born in Byron Center, MI, on December 25, 1930. He studied music at the University of Michigan with John Kollen and in New York with Leonard Shure. In his early years Wustman worked in New York as the accompanist for the Robert Shaw Chorale and for the American Opera Society. After joining the University of Illinois faculty in 1968, Wustman began conducting regular master classes in lieder in Argentina, Peru, and Uruguay. He founded the accompanying and vocal coaching program at IU in 1973, by which time he was recognized as one of the leading accompanists of the day.
In 1978 Wustman accompanied Pavarotti for an acclaimed recital at the Metropolitan Opera House, the first in a decade-long series of televised concerts with the famed tenor. From 1985 Wustman has presented summer master classes at Valparaiso University on vocal repertory and performance for singers and pianists. In 1991 Wustman launched a six-year series of recitals devoted to all 598 of Schubert's songs, the project concluding in January 1997. In 1999 he was given the highest honor at the University of Illinois by being chosen as a member of the Center for Advanced Study. Further such honors would follow, including the 2007 World of Song Award, given by the Lotte Lehmann Foundation. Among Wustman's most distinguished students over the years were tenor Jerry Hadley, soprano Erie Mills, and baritones Nathan Gunn and Zhou Zheng.