The American Pianists Association (APA) was founded in New York City in 1979 as the Beethoven Foundation. In 1982, the Foundation moved its national headquarters to Indianapolis, Indiana, because of its central geography, reasonable cost structure and personal ties by two of its founders, Tony Habig and Victor Borge.
The APA has held competitions for classical pianists from 1979 forward, and began competitions for jazz pianists in 1992. Its purpose has evolved to one of developing significant professional careers through its Fellowships by providing concerts, recordings, and other professional services. The New York Times has described its work as “profound early career assistance.”
The APA has awards one Jazz Fellowship and one Classical Fellowship in alternating two-year cycles. Recipients receive a cash prize, representation on a CD, promotional materials, and play concerts and recitals both nationally and internationally through the APA's PianoFest program. Fellows also participate in education and community outreach programs called Concerto Curriculum. In 2010 The APA raised the cash prize for both competitions to $50,000, making the jazz award the largest prize in the world for a young American jazz pianist. The value of a two-year Fellowship is well over $100,000.
From 2003 through 2008, the American Pianists Association produced Indy Jazz Fest presented by Kroger.
The APA is a national, not-for-profit organization which has flourished because of its artistic reputation for selecting uniquely talented Fellows and producing high-caliber performances across the globe. The APA receives funding from city, federal, and state entities, corporations, foundations, and individuals.