Dublin International Piano Festival & Summer Academy | Ethan Uslan | Faculty 2016

Ethan Uslan

Frederic Rzewski, piano
Ethan Uslan is a ragtime, jazz, and silent film pianist based in Charlotte, North Carolina. He is a 3-time winner of the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest and has performed all over the USA, Europe, and Cyberspace, where his jazzed-up version of Für Elise has gone viral.  Aside from solo work, Ethan has appeared with symphony orchestras, jazz bands, improv comedy groups, and even a clown show.

When Ethan was 9, the Uslan family acquired a piano. After Ethan's mother taught him the only song she knew (Heart and Soul), she handed him over to classical pianist Faina Litenzon, who taught him scales, how to read music, and the importance of playing with feeling.  She also taught Ethan the importance of patience and disciplined practice.

As a teenager, Ethan wanted to try some new musical genres to supplement his classical music. He took some guitar lessons but gave up because he hated having the tuning process. So he found Dan Crisci, a fine jazz pianist, who taught him the fundamentals of jazz improvisation and theory.

Ethan went on to study classical piano and musicology at Indiana University, where his classical piano professor was Edmund Battersby. Ethan also studied the history of American popular music with Jeffrey Magee, who wrote the authoritative biography of Irving Berlin.

At some point in Ethan's college career, he started to get obsessed with American popular music from the ragtime era through the 1940s. He was attracted to its toe-tapping pulse, its unpretentiousness, and the fact that it's charmingly American. Though Ethan never had a teacher that specialised in ragtime piano playing, the other teachers in his life had given him all the tools he needed to explore this genre.

Now, Ethan lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. His performances are filled with passion, humour, virtuosity, and a deep love for America's rich musical past. His vast repertoire includes original arrangements of Civil-War era songs, New Orleans Jazz, 1920s Charlestons, blues, stomps, Harlem stride piano, swing, Cuban rumbas, jazzed-up versions of classical masterpieces, and one Hawaiian song called Yaaka Hula Hickey Dula.