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John Mortensen

John Mortensen, DMA

Professor of Music


Dr. John Mortensen is a leader in the international revival of historic improvisation. Appearing frequently as concert artist and masterclass teacher at colleges and universities in America and Europe, he is noted for his ability to improvise entire concerts in historic styles, including complex compositions such as Baroque fugues.

He is the author of The Pianist’s Guide to Historic Improvisation (Oxford University Press, 2020), the world’s best-selling book in the field of historic keyboard improvisation, now in use as a course text at many leading conservatories.

Mortensen is a Steinway Artist and an Ohio Artist on Tour. In 2017 he was selected as a Fulbright Specialist by the U.S. Department of State to serve as an international artistic ambassador on behalf of the American people. In 2018 he toured Europe for three months, performing and teaching improvised music at conservatories across the continent.

In 2019 the State Department named him a Fulbright Global Scholar in Historic Improvisation, leading to performances and teaching at the national conservatories of Lithuania, Latvia, The United Kingdom, Denmark, and Canada.

He is the creator of Improv Planet, an online school of historic improvisation, where his students include concert artists and conservatory faculty from across the world.

He serves as professor of piano at Cedarville University. In 2016 he was named Faculty Scholar of the Year, that institution’s highest award.

Visit his website at

Education and Credentials

  • D.M.A. in Piano Performance and Literature, University of Maryland
  • M.M. in Piano Performance, University of Maryland
  • B.M.A. in Piano Performance, University of Michigan School of Music
  • Fulbright Global Scholar in Historic Improvisation, U.S. State Department
  • International Steinway Artist
  • Ohio Artist on Tour

Scholarly Works

  • The Pianist's Guide to Historic Improvisation (Oxford University Press, 2020).
  • "Historic Improvisation Live". 2020. Digital album of live concert recordings from Europe and USA. Distributed through all major streaming services.
  • "Going Off Script: Modern Pianists Turn to Early Music to Learn Improvisation." Early Music America Magazine. Forthcoming.
  • "Teaching Piano Students with Four Types of Disabilities." Piano Journal of the European Piano Teachers’ Association, April 2020.
  • "Signs of Life: A Survey of the Historic Improvisation Revival." Piano Journal of the European Piano Teachers’ Association, December 2019.

View a listing of scholarly works in the Cedarville University Digital Commons »


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