Justin Kolb’s recitals include lively commentary that is always interesting and sometimes humorous. He enjoys programming music from the traditional literature with music by living Americans —South, Central and North—and Franz Liszt.
Kolb began his piano studies at age four and soon became a student of Francis Clark and Lillian Whitaker DeCamp in Hammond, Indiana. He made his concert debut at the age of ten in solo performances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Gary Symphony.
At DePaul University, Justin studied with Herman Shapiro, Alexander Tcherepnin, and Paul Stassevich. On loan from the US Army, Kolb was among the first to serve as a cultural ambassador under the US Dept of State and the United States Information Service. Performing concerts he also addressed student youth groups in Europe and the Middle East. He has studied with Rolf Beyer in Heidelberg, Gui Mombaerts Chicago, Martin Canin NYC, German Diez. NYC. Private lessons with Hans Rosbaud in the Chicago studio of Fritz Reiner are a special memory. Luiz de Moura Castro currently coaches Kolb. “They are really piano lessons….I learn so much from Luiz” says the pianist. Castro is a close friend and artistic advisor.
Justin is intrigued and fascinated with pianist Steven Spooner's thoughts, teachings, and musings regarding artistic pianism. Professor/ Doctor Spooner promotes the establishment of consistent global standards and believes such a step is commensurate with Franz Liszt's encouragement to throw our lance into the future.
Justin is currently on the Board of Directors of the American Liszt Society, is a co-founder of the Phoenicia Int’l Festival of the Voice and was recently named Chairman Emeritus. The pianist is a recipient of DePaul University’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
Kolb is married to prize-winning mosaic artist Barbara Mellon Kolb; they make their home in New York’s Catskill Mountains.
More about Justin
- Guest faculty, Adam Gyorgy Castle Academy in Hungary
- Career Advisor, Chamber Music America's annual conference
- Invited annually to serve as Master of Ceremonies, American Liszt Society Festivals
- Jurist for international piano competitions
- Repertory ranging from Galuppi to Victoria Bond, Tania Leon and Joan Tower. His special programs of Beethoven and Liszt are popular.
- An audience favorite is "Liszt and the Barefoot Carmelite."
- Tangos, Rags, and more…
- Champion of new music and music by living American composers, with a repertory that routinely includes Victoria Bond, Kyle Gann, Tania Leon, Alfredo Diez Nieto, Robert Cucinotta, Joseph Hudson, and Peter Schickele
- Particular focus on Robert Starer, Willian Ferris, John Downey, Paul Alan Levi and Robert Cucinotta, all of whom have dedicated works to Kolb
“Justin Kolb, decisive and persuasive at the keyboard, played the early Prelude at the start of a sequence of piano pieces that covered more than half a century and again proved Mr. Starer's stability of style.” — Paul Griffiths, New York Times
- Robert Starer, Solo Piano Music 1946-1996
- William Ferris, Solo Piano Music 1962 - 1999
- To All, To Each, part songs from America and Britain, with the William Ferris Chorale
- Justin Kolb Live (Mellon Music Label)
“Music Crusader” — Clavier Magazine, cover story by Elyse Mach In visits to schools around the country, Kolb explains the value of studying music. "I want young people to understand how much the skills they develop will help them for the rest of their lives." Each year in addition to performing 65 solo recitals with repertoire by Beethoven, Liszt, and Samuel Barber, Justin presents music programs at about fifteen universities and thirty schools, speaking to small groups of elementary age children who have never studied an instrument. He also collaborates with students in band, orchestra, and choir programs. Read article.
"The Colorful Music of Robert Starer" — Clavier Magazine, by Justin Kolb A revealing person to person interview with the American Composer, Robert Starer, conducted in Woodstock, NY, 1999. Read article.
"Working with Living Composers" — Keyboard Classics and Piano Stylists, by Justin Kolb Humorous and delightful, Kolb shares with the reader a number of anecdotes describing an insider's experiences and feelings when working with some of today's more popular composers. Read article.
“Music Crusader” — Clavier Magazine, cover story 2006
- Collaboration with playwrite, novelist and actor, Carey Harrison: "The Seven Favorite Maladies of Ludwig van Beethoven"
- Collaboration with actor David Aston-Reese: Tennyson's Enoch Arden music of Richard Strauss), music by Richard Strauss
- Collaboration with performance artist, Mikhail Horowitz: Songs of Innocence and of Experience by Blake, music by William Bolcom
- Collaboration with psychiatrist François Martin Mai: Diagnosing Genius: The Life and Death of Beethoven
- Elementary schools: enrichment sessions
- High schools: motivational clinics for band, orchestra and students
- Universities and music schools: how-to presentations on music as a profession
- The Chicago Symphony Orchestra
- Hamburg Philharmonic (Germany)
- Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra
- Gary Indiana Symphony
- Hamilton-Fairfield Symphony Orchestra (Ohio)
- Suncoast Symphony (St. Petersburg, Florida)
- United States Military Concert Band at West Point
- Northshore Concert Band (Chicago)
- Westmoreland Symphonic Winds (Pittsburgh)
- Kalamazoo Concert Band (Michigan)
- The William Ferris Chorale (Chicago)
- Ars Choralis (Woodstock, NY)
- Columbia Pro Cantare (Columbia, MD)
- Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice Festival Orchestra (Phoenicia, NY - The Catskill Park)