Allen Shawn

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Allen Shawn
Born 1948 (age 69–70)
United States
Residence Vermont
Occupation Composer, pianist, educator, author
Spouse(s) Jamaica Kincaid
(m. 1979; div. 2002)

Yoshiko Sato
Children 3
Parent(s) William Shawn
Cecille 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 the 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 life[edit]

Shawn is the son of The New Yorker editor William Shawn and the brother of the actor and playwright Wallace Shawn. He also has a twin sister, Mary 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]