Allen Shawn

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Allen Shawn
Born 1948 (age 67–68)
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, two piano concertos, a cello concerto, and a violin concerto; three chamber operas; five 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, four CDs of piano music,including a CD devoted to his piano work by German pianist Julia Bartha, 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, and a book about Leonard Bernstein called Leonard Bernstein: An American Musician]].

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] and 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 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 master's 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 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]