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Joseph Werner

Joseph Werner
Joseph Werner

Instruments: Piano, Celeste, Harpsichord, Synthesizer

With the RPO since: 1975 - I’ve also been the Orchestra Personnel Manager since 1992.

My earliest musical memory is attending my first opera at the old Metropolitan Opera House when I was seven or eight years old.

I knew I would make music my career when I was told after a successful audition for the Eastman School of Music that I could study with Eugene List (one of my idols) if I were to enroll at the school.

Most influential teachers: Eugene List, Brooks Smith (Jasha Heifitz's accompanist for many years), Leon Fleisher and Rosina Lhevinne.

Favorite composer and/or musical period: Mahler; Italian opera, art song, French and Russian repertoire of all kinds.

What do you most enjoy about performing? The interaction between players, conductor and the audience. When all three elements work together, the result is exhilarating and electric.

What is your favorite part of being a member of the RPO? I enjoy a double life in the RPO. My role as pianist and personnel manager enables me to combine my playing with my administrative and organizational skills. My love and respect for the people in the RPO make both jobs extremely enjoyable and rewarding.

When I'm not onstage, you might find me on the phone.

I always thought it would be fun to be a paleontologist.

I love to dine at 2 Vine, Dinosaur Barbeque and Maria's Mexican Restaurant.

My favorite thing about Rochester is that it’s a small city with many of the amenities of a much larger city. Superb museums, restaurants, theater, dance and music are all very close at hand. Rochester is only a few hours by car to some of the most amazing natural wonders in the country: Adirondack Park, Letchworth, Watkins Glen, the Finger Lakes and so on.

What do think is the Orchestra's most important role in our community? To continue to bring great orchestral music to the public, both young and old - not by electronic means but live. 



Joseph Werner enjoys a varied career as a soloist, collaborative artist, orchestral pianist, administrator, and educator. He has been the Principal Pianist for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra since 1975 and the orchestra’s Personnel Manager since 1993. He was also Co-Artistic Director of the Society for Chamber Music in Rochester from 2000-2013.

Active both in recital and as an orchestral soloist, Werner has performed numerous times with the RPO in concerto repertoire ranging from Bach to Gershwin. In his solo role, he has appeared with conductors David Zinman, Mark Elder, Christopher Seaman, Jorge Mester, Peter Bay, Isaiah Jackson, and Enrique Diemecke. One of the busiest collaborative pianists in Rochester, he was for many years the accompanist for the celebrated American violinist, Carroll Glenn, and performs regularly with a host of RPO soloists, Eastman School of Music faculty, and visiting artists. 

An active recording artist, Werner has recordings on the Columbia, Vanguard, Musical Heritage Society, NEXUS, and Naxos labels. He recorded an album of French music for trombone and piano with Mark Kellogg entitled Impressions and the world premiere of Blue Windows, a sextet for winds and piano written for him and the Antara Winds by the distinguished American composer Libby Larsen.

Werner is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, where he earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees and the performer’s certificate. His teachers have included Eugene List, Brooks Smith, Leon Fleisher, and Rosina Lhevinne. He is currently Co-Chair of the Piano Department of the David Hochstein School of Music and Dance, where he won that institution’s first Faculty Service Award in 1990. He was named Mu Phi Epsilon’s “Musician of the Year” in 2007. He resides in Penfield with his wife, flutist Diane Smith, and enjoys opera, hiking, canoeing, and cross-country skiing.


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