Austin was born Dorothea Blaukopf into a Jewish family in Vienna, Austria. As a child, she was already performing as a concert pianist. She fled to England before World War II on the last Kindertransport sponsored by the Red Cross. Her brother Viktor and her parents died during the war.
In England she worked in a factory for a while to support herself, but was evenutally taken in by Quaker philanthropists Nelly and Rachel Leighton. She studied piano at the Royal College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music with Tobias Matthay in London, and afterward worked as a concert pianist.
She married Dr. Hermann Augapfel (Harry Austin), who was interned during the war in a British camp for enemy aliens. She began teaching piano at that time, and continued this work after the couple emigrated to the United States in 1949. The Austins located in Valley Stream, Long Island, where they lived until Harry Austin died in 1974.
As her performing career had been interrupted by the war, Austin attended Queens College (CUNY) in New York City, where she studied composition with Leo Kraft and George Perle. She developed in interest in electronic forms and composition with synthesizer, working successfully as a composer. Austin took a position as professor at Queensborough Community College, where she remained for nearly forty years, also serving as department chair. Austin was a member of the New York Women Composers Association.
After the death of Harry Austin, she married Gerson Banner, who died in 2004. Austin had three daughters. Her papers are housed at Queensborough Community College Library.
- Transformation for viola, piano and tape (1973)
- Fantasia for piano and orchestra (1984)
- Syndetos for piano (1984)
- Analogy for viola, cello and piano (1985)
- Metamorphosis for cello and piano (1986)
- Reflections I
- Reflections II for high voice, flute (piccolo), oboe (English horn), clarinet, horn and bassoon; words by Stephen Crane
- Several sources including VIAF and WorldCat cite 1922 as Austin's date of birth.
- Dorothea Austin Banner obituary Retrieved 10 March 2013.
- "Composers biography:Ap-Az". Retrieved 22 October 2010.
- Cohen, Aaron I. (1987). International encyclopedia of women composers, Volume 2. Books & Music USA. Retrieved 11 November 2010.