Dr. John Olsen


Dr. John Olsen, Professor of Piano at Eastern New Mexico University, has had a long and distinguished career as a performer and teacher. A native of New York, he began piano studies at an early age under the great American virtuoso Daniel Pollack. At this time he won the prestigious Tushinsky award of the Young Musicians Foundation.


After finishing his Bachelor’s Degree in only two years, John Olsen entered the Manhattan School of Music to study with the Austrian pianist, Robert Goldsand, who studied with a student of Franz Liszt. Olsen began to specialize in the music of the 19th century with a particular love for the music of Chopin, Schumann, Liszt and Rachmaninoff. He performed many concerts throughout the United States at this time, and premiered, with the Ramey Trio works for piano, clarinet and bassoon in Germany and other European countries.

John Olsen was awarded a full scholarship to the University of Southern California to pursue doctoral studies in piano performance and there he once again came under the tutelage of Daniel Pollack. This connection with Pollack established Olsen’s link to the great Russian school of pianism which emphasizes beauty of tone, color, passion, and virtuosity.

After completing his doctoral degree, John Olsen taught at numerous colleges and conservatories including the Manhattan School of Music, the University of Southern California, California State University Long Beach, and the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music.


In 2001, Dr. Olsen became Department Chair of the Music Department at Eastern New Mexico University, a position he held for seven years. During this time, he participated in the 1-2-1 program with the Sichuan Conservatory of Music in Chengdu, China. Talented pianists from China studied at Eastern New Mexico University under Dr. Olsen and have graduated with degrees from both institutions in piano performance.  John Olsen had been a visiting professor at the Sichuan Conservatory of Music from 2009 to 2012 during the summers. Many of  Dr. Olsen’s students have won regional and national piano competitions and numerous students are pursuing graduate studies in piano performance as full scholarship recipients at a number of prestigious universities and conservatories.


In great demand John Olsen has judged many of the important piano competitions in the United States and Europe. He remains very active as an adjudicator, especially those competitions sponsored by MTNA.