J. William Schleifer, MD, performs in piano competition

J. William Schleifer, MD

J. William Schleifer, MD

J. William Schleifer, MD, an assistant professor in the UNMC Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, participated in the Eighth Cliburn International Amateur Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas, on Oct. 12-18.

Out of 205 applicants, 39 amateur pianists were selected as competitors, and Dr. Schleifer was one of 15 selected as non-competing festival participants.

“Participating in the Cliburn International Amateur Piano Competition is something that has been an aspiration for many years,” he said. “It was a world-class event and truly a privilege to participate.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the competition was postponed to October 2022. The event is for participants 35 and older who do not have music as their primary source of income.

Dr. Schleifer performed a 15-minute program for the jury. He performed the piece “Apres une lecture du Dante: Fantasia quasi sonata” (loosely translated “After Reading Dante: Fantasy somewhat like a sonata”) by Franz Liszt.

“It’s a piece that never gets boring, despite performing it many times over the years,” he said. “It’s special to me as a physician, because it depicts the life-and-death struggle that we encounter each day in medicine.”

See Dr. Schleifer’s performance at the Cliburn International Amateur Piano Competition.

Dr. Schleifer began piano lessons at age 8. He competed in local and regional competitions in high school and college. In medical school at Medical College of Georgia, he was a frequent performer at the “Noon Arts” concerts every quarter. He continued to play piano as much as residency at University of Alabama-Birmingham and fellowship at Mayo Clinic would allow.

He double majored in piano performance and biology, and he continues to make both science and music a priority.

“Time is precious, and I am highly motivated to maximize the practice time that I have,” he said. “I am much more amazed now at what various composers overcame to leave us the works they did. Each piece is a gift and a monument to the human struggle against death and disease, which is what medicine is also about.”


  1. Kelly Caverzagie says:

    Beautiful performance! Congratulations!

  2. Kim Rehtus says:

    What an accomplishment! Congratulations!!

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