Donald Betts made his New York debut as a pianist and composer at the age of 21, playing his own music along with works by Prokofieff, Liszt, and Schumann. The New York Times called him “a pianist of imagination and poetic feeling”. Musical America cited “his tremendous technique and bravura style”. Soon after he won The Concert Artist Guild Award and presented two more New York recitals at Town Hall and Carnegie Hall. While attending graduate school at Indiana University School of Music, he was the only piano student given a studio and a roster of music students to teach. Soon after as a Professor of Music at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN, he cofounded The Macalester Trio. The trio’s recording of Chamber Works By Women Composers was hailed in 1980 by Newsweek as one of ten of the most important recordings of the year.
Betts is also a composer of over 150 compositions. His works have been performed in Dublin, Ireland and Puebla San Miguel Allerde, Mexico. His works have also been performed in the Conservatory of Music in Siberia and Sarajevo, New York City, Chicago, Washington DC, Pittsburg, Tallahassee, and various colleges and universities throughout the East and Midwest. His recording with the Centaur label, Soundings: Piano Works of Donald Betts, was called “seductively dreamlike and sensuous, filled with mystery and rapture” by American Record Guide. Composer Henry Brant said of his piano music, “In my view these compositions occupy a place of their own in the repertory of 20th century keyboard music.” Betts has recorded for Vox, Centaur, CRI, Golden Crest, MMC, Ampria, and Inscape. He is a Professor Emeritus of Macalester College.