Allen Shawn

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Allen Shawn
Born 1948 (age 66–67)
United States
Occupation Composer
Parent(s) William Shawn
Relatives Wallace Shawn (brother)

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)
  3. ^ NPR
  4. ^

External links[edit]