Watson Morrison, Traditional Piano
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Watson Morrison

traditional piano

Watson Morrison, Traditional Piano

Watson Morrison has taught at The Hartt School of the University of Hartford since 1955, and has been with the Community Division since 1997. He retired from The Hartt College Faculty in 2001, and currently holds the title of Professor of Piano Emeritus. He served as Co-Chair for the College Piano Department (with Luiz de Moura Castro) for many years and has presented over 100 piano recitals at Hartt. Many of these recitals featured works entirely by one composer such as Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Chopin, Liszt, Debussy, and Hartt composer, Thomas Putsche. He has also presented two recitals consisting only of Hartt composers.

Morrison’s musical background remains unique in that he started musical study as a trumpet player and later performed in several jazz groups before turning to the study of piano at the age of 18. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from the New England Conservatory (NEC) with Honors in 1953 and later received his Master of Music degree from NEC in 1955 when he won the New England Conservatory Concerto Competition. He received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Boston University in 1972. He studied with Arthur Balsam, Alexander Borovsky, David Barnett, Howard Goding, Grant Johannsesen, Bela Nagy, Moshe Paranov, Leonard Seeber, and Leon Tumarkin.

Watson Morrison is presented with the Fuller Medal. Photo credit: CS Hoover Photography

Morrison performed with orchestral conductors Richard Burgin, David Hayes, David Katz, Harry Kruger, Raymond Orr, Ralph Shapey, Chester Williams, and Steven Lipsitt. In 1991, in observance of the 200th anniversary of Mozart’s death, Dr. Morrison performed the complete set of Mozart’s Sonatas for Piano. He later lectured upon and performed these Sonatas at the Itu Music Festival in Sao Paolo, Brazil. He performed throughout the Northeast as well as in Iceland, the Azores, and Bermuda.

Morrison performed on radio and television and remains in demand as an adjudicator, panelist, and lecturer. He served 4 terms on the Fulbright National Screening Committee for pianists in New York City. He recorded the music of Heinrich Schenker for The Musical Heritage Society and is a member of the American Liszt Society.

In June 2015, the University of Hartford’s The Hartt School awarded its Alfred C. Fuller Medal to Watson Wilbur Morrison, Professor Emeritus of Piano, at the conclusion of his 60th year of teaching for the school. The dinner ceremony included remarks by friends, students, faculty, and by Morrison himself, as well as a screening of Taking Care of the Children: Celebrating the Life, Work, and Legacy of Dr. Watson Wilbur Morrison.

Morrison is the namesake of The Dr. Watson Morrison Endowed Scholarship, a fund that provides annual merit-based scholarship support to 6th-,7th-, and 8th-grade piano students who are top performers and are selected through the adjudicated Community Division Piano Honors program.

Highlights

  • Watson Morrison wearing the Fuller Medal. Photo credit: CS Hoover PhotographyEducation: D.M.A., Boston University; M.M., New England Conservatory; B.M., New England Conservatory
  • Studies with Raymond Hanson, Leonard Seeber, Moshe Paranov, Artur Balsam, Grant Johannesen, Howard Goding, and Bela Nagy
  • Soloist, 1994-1995 ITU International Music Festival, Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • Winner of the New England Conservatory Concerto Competition
  • Performed with conductors Richard Burgin, David Hayes, David Katz, Harry Kruger, Raymond Orr, Ralph Shapley, Chester Williams
  • Performed over 100 recitals at Hartt including many dedicated to single composers: Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, Mozart, and Putsche
  • Toured North America, South America, Iceland, Territories of British Isles and Portugal
  • Recordings for Music Heritage Society
  • Member of Fulbright National Screening Committee for Pianists
  • Member of American Liszt Society
  • In October 2004, celebrated 50 years of teaching at The Hartt School with an all Chopin recital
  • Watson Morrison Scholarship Prize established at Hartt in 2004
  • Professor of Piano Emeritus, The Hartt School since 1955

Teaching Philosophy

I see that the student understands every one of my directions for technique and musical improvement using a wise choice of teaching materials.

Pictured, middle and bottom: Watson Morrison is presented with the Fuller Medal. Photo credit: CS Hoover Photography