John Charles Wustman
Illinois Arts Legacy Award
John Charles Wustman was born in Byron Center, Michigan, and studied music at the University of Michigan with John Kollen and in New York with Leonard Shure. He was a pianist for the rehearsals of the American Opera Society’s presentation of Vincenzo Bellini’s II Pirata that occurred in Carnegie Hall in 1959 and would later serve as a member of the jury at the Fourth International Tschaikovsky Competition in Moscow with Maria Callas.
John has appeared in the leading concert halls of five continents with some of the greatest singers from the second half of the 20th century, including Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Birgit Nilsson, Régine Crespin, Christa Ludwig, Nicolai Gedda, Carlo Bergonzi, and Luciano Pavarotti. After joining the University of Illinois faculty in 1968, Wustman began conducting regular master classes in lieder in Argentina, Peru, and Uruguay. He founded the accompanying and vocal coaching program at the U of I in 1973, by which time he was recognized as one of the leading accompanists of the day.
In 1978, Wustman accompanied Pavarotti for an acclaimed recital at the Metropolitan Opera House, the first in a decade-long series of televised concerts with the famed tenor. Since 1985, Wustman has presented summer master classes at Valparaiso University on vocal repertory and performance for singers and pianists. In 1991, Wustman launched a six-year series of recitals devoted to all 598 of Schubert’s songs that concluded in January 1997. He was given the highest honor at the University of Illinois in 1999 when he was chosen as a member of the Center for Advanced Study. Further such honors would follow, including the 2007 World of Song Award given by the Lotte Lehmann Foundation. Among Wustman’s most distinguished students over the years are tenor Jerry Hadley, soprano Erie Mills, and baritones Nathan Gunn and Zhou Zheng.