Ruskin Cooper (1957–2012) was a native of Savannah, Georgia. His teachers included James Ambrose, Lydia Frumkin, Jacques Abram, Leonard Hokanson, Hartmut Höll and John Salmon. He received a Fulbright Grant for study in Germany, and wrote his doctoral dissertation on the piano music of young Robert Schumann's closest friend, Ludwig Schuncke. Cooper's study received the Outstanding Dissertation Award at UNCG, and is cited in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. It was published in an English-German version in 1997. Dr. Cooper was active as a recitalist, chamber musician, teacher, clinician, and adjudicator. He gave solo recitals throughout the Southeast, as well as in Germany, Italy, Poland, and Mexico. In 2006, he played to large, enthusiastic audiences in Italy, prompting the Corriere Adriatico to write that he "literally drove the audience wild" with a program of American piano music. Starting in 1997, he taught at Davidson College, having also taught at the North Carolina School of the Arts and at Salem College. He was Past President of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of The College Music Society, and served on the board of the North Carolina Music Teachers Association.
His performances have been broadcast via the internet on Radio Vaticana. Cooper recorded for Centaur Records, South German Radio, WFDD-FM and WDAV-FM. A CD featuring American piano music is available on Centaur Records, and has been broadcast on many radio stations throughout the NPR network.
2018: Hannah Compton (University of North Carolina–Wilmington)
"Conceptions of Time in Maurice Ravel's Violin Sonata in G Major"
2017: Nathan Cornelius (Peabody Institute)
"The Interaction of Repetition and Short-Term Memory in Melodic Dictation Tasks"
2016: Steven Brundage (University of South Carolina)
“Fooled by Fluency: Understanding Misjudgments and Illusions in Music Learning”
2015: Ryan Olivier (Temple University)
“Hearing Electronic Voices: Discourse and Meaning through Contrapuntal Multimedia”
2014: Jeremy Carter (West Virginia University)
“Baccalaureate Degrees in the Field of Jazz”
2013: Daniel Tomkins (Appalachian State University)
“The Unsettling Passacaglia: Jewish Modality and Harmonic Antipodes in Shostakovich's Second Piano Trio”