In 1991, he won a gold medal at the Queen Elisabeth (of Belgium) International Music Competition in Brussels and received an Avery Fischer Career Grant. He has also won the fellowship of the American Pianists Association.
This capped off a lifetime of solid training that began when he was five years old in his native California. At the age of 12 he began studying with his major teacher, Aube Tzerko, which places Prutsman in the Arthur Schnabel lineage of pianists, as Tzerko was a protégé and assistant to the great pianist-teacher. Then he attended the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Maryland where he enrolled with another great teacher, Leon Fleischer.
Prutsman quickly appeared on the international scene as a recitalist, chamber and accompaniment pianist, and soloist with orchestras. He has appeared with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Baltimore, Minnesota, Houston, Milwaukee, Pacific, Colorado, Louisiana, Seattle, Detroit, and Dallas Symphony Orchestras, the Belgian National Orchestra, the Prague Radio Symphony, the Chamber Philharmonic of Bremen and the State Theater Orchestra of Mainz.
As a chamber musician he has performed with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and has played with the St. Lawrence and Audubon String Quartets and members of the Guarneri, Juilliard, and Brentano String Quartets. His recital tours have taken him to many major cities of the world, where he has played at the top venues in, among other places, Santiago de Chile, Washington, D.C., Moscow, Mexico City, New York, Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, and Tokyo. In addition, he is accomplished as a professional jazz pianist.
Stephen Prutsman is also a composer. Among his works is a piano concerto named Ocean Parables, and he has written both classical and jazz works. He has written arrangements of songs that have been recorded by soprano Dawn Upshaw with the Kronos Quartet on the Nonesuch CD label. He has frequently been featured on the U.S. radio program Performance Today.
Prutsman obviously believes that from the earliest stages a musician with a successful career needs to back up his musical beliefs with more than must playing concerts. Almost as soon as he "arrived," he co-founded the El Paso (Texas) Chamber Music Festival, of which he remained a co-director for ten years, and appeared as a performer in every one of them during that period. He also appears regularly at the Marlboro Music Festival and Spoleto USA. He is also the founder of "A Festival of Music" on the island of Guam and has been Artistic Consultant to the American Pianists Association.
Prutsman has recorded for labels ranging from small independents (such as Lotus Records Salzburg and Brioso) to the largest (Naxos, on which he has recorded the Edward MacDowell piano concertos. He also played the soundtrack piano part in the film based on Beethoven's speculative amours, Immortal Beloved. He has also begun conducting, primarily from the keyboard in appropriate concertos.
Stephen Prutsman makes his home in San Francisco.