Allen Shawn

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Allen Shawn (born 1948) is an American composer, pianist, educator, and author who lives in Vermont.

His music[edit]

Shawn began composing at the age of ten, but dates his mature work from 1977. He has written a dozen orchestral works, including a Symphony, and Piano Concerto, and a Violin Concerto; three chamber operas; four piano sonatas and many additional works for piano; a large catalogue of chamber music, songs and choral music. Among Shawn's available recordings are several of chamber music, three CDs of piano music, a Piano Concerto performed by Ursula Oppens with the Albany Symphony Orchestra under the direction of David Alan Miller, and a chamber opera "The Music Teacher", with a libretto by his brother, Wallace Shawn.

As author[edit]

Shawn is the author of a book about twentieth-century Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg titled Arnold Schoenberg's Journey.

He is also the author of Wish I Could Be There: Notes from a Phobic Life, which examines his experiences with anxiety and panic disorder, as well as his relationship with his autistic twin sister Mary.[1] Most recently, he has published Twin: A Memoir, also about Mary and his relationship with her.[2] He discussed Twin with Terry Gross on WHYY's Fresh Air on January 3, 2011.[3]

Personal history[edit]

Shawn is the son of the late The New Yorker editor William Shawn and the brother of the actor and playwright Wallace Shawn. He received a bachelor's degree from Harvard University, a Masters degree from Columbia University, and studied in France with Nadia Boulanger.[4]

He teaches composition and music history at Bennington College and was formerly married to novelist Jamaica Kincaid, with whom he has a son, Harold, and a daughter, Annie.

He is currently married to pianist Yoshiko Sato, with whom he has a five-year-old son, Noa.


  1. ^ Shawn, Allen. Wish I Could Be There: Notes from a Phobic Life (New York: Viking, 2007)
  2. ^ Shawn, Allen. Twin: A Memoir (New York: Viking, 2011)
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External links[edit]