Peter J. Cooper

1958 - 

Peter Cooper, professor of piano and music theory in the school of music at Southern Adventist University from 2006 to 2017, continued as interim dean of the program until 2018, when he fully retired. Prior to this appointment, he had taught in and chaired the department of music at Andrews University.

A professor in piano at AU beginning in 1987, he was previously on the keyboard faculties of the University of Michigan All-State Program at Interlochen and at the AU International Music Festival.  In 1992 he became chairman of the AU music department when James Hanson, who had been serving in that position for four years, left. Cooper proved to be fair-minded and thoughtful, a supportive, involved, and effective chair during his fourteen years of leadership.

Cooper, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, began his musical training at age seven. His early music study included piano, theory, and composition studies at the St. Louis Institute of Music. A scholarship student at the Conservatory of Music of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, he graduated With Distinction, studying piano with Richard Cass and orchestra conducting with Glenn Block.

As a recipient of a Fulbright/DAAD Grant, Cooper continued study in conducting and piano under Volker Wangenheim and Karl Kaufhold at the State Conservatory of Music in Cologne, Republic of Germany. He received his D.M.A. degree in piano performance from the University of Michigan, where he was a student of Theodore Lettvin.

Cooper, a highly acclaimed pianist and teacher, is a frequent recitalist, performs often in chamber ensembles and as an accompanist, and has made numerous appearances as a soloist with orchestra. He has soloed with the Kansas City Civic Orchestra, the Kansas City Civic String Orchestra, the UMKC Conservatory Orchestra, the Conservatory Mozarteum, the Jefferson City Symphony Orchestra, and the Michiana Symphony Orchestra.

His repertoire ranges from traditional works to pieces by less-performed composers of the Baroque through the 20th century, including performances of works on period instruments, when appropriate. In addition to extensive concertizing throughout the Midwest, he has performed and taught in the Northwest, Canada, Mexico, Russia, and on the island of Guam.

In the autumn of 1991, Cooper completed his first European tour, giving concerts in Austria, France, and Germany. At the invitation of the Baden-Baden Brahms Society he spent three weeks as the Guest Scholar, performing and doing research at that city's Brahms House, the only house still standing where Brahms lived and worked.

Cooper frequently presents master classes and clinics in piano and is active as a lecturer. His article, "Issues to Consider in the Performance of 18th-century and Early 19th-century Keyboard Music," was published in the Summer 1989 issue of the International Adventist Musicians Association Journal.

He and his wife, Laurie, have two children, Audrey and Daniel.


Sources: Biographies at the Andrews and Southern Adventist universities websites; The IAMA Journal, Summer 1989, 31; email from Marianne Kordas, May 26, 2017; Public Records,; personal knowledge.