Timothy Ehlen

Associate Professor of Piano

B.M. and M.M., University of Southern California (John Perry); D.M.A., Cleveland Institute of Music (Paul Schenly).


Timothy Ehlen has performed extensively in the United States and Europe as a soloist and chamber player.  He first gained international attention after winning the World Piano Competition in 1987; after his subsequent debut in Lincoln Center at Alice Tully Hall in 1988, the New York Times raved that his “playing was filled with elegant personality... recalled bygone artists like Robert Casadesus and, especially Walter Gieseking in their mastery of both 18th century and impressionist music...immaculate technique.”  The Pro Piano Recital Series sponsored his 1997 recital in Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, which the New York Concert Review hailed as “…an absolutely remarkable tour-de-force.”  Recitals in France, Germany, and Korea have elicited a similarly enthusiastic response: “Sensitive and tender creativity [in Ravel]” [Fürther Nachrichten] and “behind the fire hid a heartfelt emotion, held together by tender affection [in Beethoven]” [L’Alsace].

Recitals include the Cleveland Orchestra’s Schubert Bi-Centennial Series in Cleveland, Festival Recontres Internationales de Piano en Alsace, International Franz Liszt Festival in France; periodic recitals on the series “Sundays Live” (broadcast live on KMZT in Los Angeles and the internet), Old First Concerts in San Francisco, Bösendorfer Hall in Vienna, Kum Ho Art Hall in Seoul, Korea; numerous universities, including Indiana University in Bloomington, Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, Seoul National University in Korea, Brevard Music Festival; and concerto appearances with the Champaign-Urbana Symphony, and at the American Liszt Society Conference with Sinfonia da Camera in Champaign, IL.  He has been heard frequently on National Public Radio, in addition to numerous independent broadcasts of major market performances in this country and abroad.

Mr. Ehlen is currently in the process of recording the complete Beethoven Sonatas for the Azica label, drawn largely from his recent recitals at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Champaign, IL. After the release of volume III, Fanfare Magazine (May/June 2011) wrote, “…I have the feeling that the cycle with the richest rewards will turn out to be the Ehlen.” Volume V was released in November 2012; volume VI is scheduled for release in spring 2013. His solo CD containing the Schumann Fantasie and other works was released on the Azica label in 2006 to critical acclaim. Other recordings have appeared on the Crystal, Omnibus, and Felia Mundi labels.  

Dedicated to fostering young talent, Mr. Ehlen regularly offers master classes and presentations at major universities and conservatories, including The San Francisco Conservatory, Seoul National University, Yonsei University and others in Korea, Eastman School of Music, The Chautauqua Music Festival, Brevard Music Festival, The Colburn School of Music in Los Angeles, California Institute of the Arts, Cleveland Institute of Music, Boston University, etc.

Mr. Ehlen has taught and performed at the summer festivals Rencontres Musicales en Lorraine in Nancy, France, the Vienna International Piano Academy in Vienna, Austria, and the Chautauqua Music Festival in New York, and the Brevard Music Institute in North Carolina. Timothy Ehlen is an International Steinway Artist.

Teaching Philosophy

My first goal is to be sensitive to the unique qualities and abilities of all of my students.  I am the most satisfied after a performance class in which my students have played beautifully and convincingly, but differently.

I tend to do a lot of “coaching” when I teach.  That is, I describe, encourage, gesticulate, sing, or play while the student plays (after the initial offering of the student).  I want the student to feel the energy and direction inherent in the music, and, for this, the experience of “doing” is just as valuable as my words of advice.  In addition, I try to be as specific as possible about what can be improved.

Because of the great importance of vulnerability in music-making, a supportive atmosphere conducive to experimentation is a necessity.  One of my primary artistic tenets is the assumption that music is an invitation to sympathy: the expression of sincere human emotion is essential in achieving greatness in life and art.  I believe that humanistic values such as creativity and spontaneity tend to encourage a communicative immediacy in performance.

I promote as many performance opportunities as possible.  I strive to give “roots” based on understanding a clear approach, and I hope this will lead students to “wings” of inspiration for creative exploration as an autonomous musician.  In essence, I want my students to experience confident musical flight.