Elizabeth R. Austin’s music is meticulous and complex, filled with movement, growth, and turning points. Not a bad description for her own life.” This quote, from an article in SCOPE (Winter, 2011) written by Michael K. Slayton, continues to be relevant to this octogenarian, whose focus on writing music has become even more intense!

Elizabeth spent the first decades of her life studying at Baltimore’s Peabody Conservatory. When Nadia Boulanger visited Goucher College (Towson, MD) in 1958, she listened to the composer’s Drei Rilke Lieder, awarding her a scholarship to the Conservatoire Americaine (Fontainebleau).

Her association with the Hartt School of Music (University of Hartford), where she earned a Master’s in Music while teaching at the Community Division, included the establishment of a faculty/student exchange with the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik Heidelberg-Mannheim. Earning her Ph.D. at the University of Connecticut, Elizabeth Austin won First Prize in the Lipscomb Electronic Music Competition (Klavier Double for piano and tape). From then on, Dr. Jerome A. Reed, who sponsored this competition, has performed and recorded Elizabeth’s piano music throughout his long and illustrious career.

Her awards have included a Connecticut Commission on the Arts grant, selection by GEDOK (Society of Women Artists in Germany/Austria) to represent the Mannheim region in its 70th anniversary exhibition, and First Prize in IAWM’s 1998 Miriam Gideon Competition (for Homage for Hildegard [von Bingen], and a Rockefeller Foundation residency at Bellagio, Italy (2001).

Performed in Europe and Scandinavia, as well as in The United States and the Caribbean, Austin’s music has been received with distinction and critical acclaim. Featured on Germany’s Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk, the Leipzig pianist Ulrich Urban has championed her piano music, performing at the Gewandhaus and The National Gallery of Art.

Dr. Michael K. Slayton, Professor of Theory/Composition, Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt University, wrote his DMA dissertation (University of Houston, 2000) on Austin’s music. Dr. Slayton edited the book, Women of Influence in Contemporary Music: Nine American Composers, Scarecrow Press, 2011, also writing the chapter on Austin’s music. Teresa Crane, U. Illinois, wrote her DMA dissertation on Austin’s song cycles (2007). Christian Johnson, U. Nebraska, is writing a DMA on her Rose Sonata.

Dr. Austin was the BMI/Vanderbilt University (Blair School of Music) Composer in Residence in 2015. During this time, an excerpt from the Austins’ opera I am one and double too was performed in a portrait concert. An excerpt from the opera was later performed in concert at Hartford’s Wadsworth Atheneum in 2018, sponsored by the Women Composers Festival of Hartford.

Her music has been blessed with outstanding and enthusiastic artists, recently performing Litauische Lieder in Berlin, the English setting of Frauenliebe und -leben (A Woman’s Love and Life) at the Opera America Center in NYC, and the Hartford Musical Club’s commission of Frost’s The Road Not Taken.

Elizabeth is at home in Connecticut; to contact her, please visit elizabethaustinmusic.com or the American Composers Alliance. Her music is published by American Composers Alliance composers.com, Tonger Musikverlag, Peer Musik, and Certosa.

Ending with another quote from Dr. Slayton’s article: “Even after almost fifteen years of studying Austin’s music, I am still surprised by its wealth and depth.” One hopes you feel the same!

Albums

Window Panes

Release Date: August 14, 2020
Catalog Number: NV6304
21st Century
Orchestral
Solo Instrumental
Orchestra
Piano
Voice
Navona presents WINDOW PANES, a cross section of works by compositional veteran Elizabeth R. Austin. The collection is the first to comprise a lifetime of the American's works into one album: and as the title insinuates, it is an album full of interwoven associations, subconscious reminiscences and intense melodic reflections, with decades of labor condensed into an hour of listening.
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Spectra II

Release Date: October 12, 2018
Catalog Number: NV6188
20th Century
21st Century
Chamber
Solo Instrumental
Piano
Viola
SPECTRA 2 unveils the works of six composers, each of whom tells a unique, memorable story. First up is Elizabeth R. Austin's B-A-C-HOMAGE, an intricately constructed tribute to the German Baroque composer. Based on Bach's name and his "Air on G" respectively, the first and second movement reflect upon the clarity of his work through the lens of Austin's decidedly modern tonal language.
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The Spectra Series

Release Date: January 13, 2017
Catalog Number: NV6077
21st Century
Solo Instrumental
Vocal Music
Choir
Orchestra
Piano
In 2008, PARMA Recordings acquired Capstone Records, the highly respected New York-based classical label founded by composer Richard Brooks in 1986, with the intent of shepherding the company and its music into the digital era. This album was originally released on Capstone and is being re-released by PARMA Recording's Navona Records.
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Spectra

Release Date: August 1, 2014
Catalog Number: NV5964
21st Century
Chamber
Solo Instrumental
Piano
Violin
Continuing the mission of the original Capstone Records series by the Connecticut Composers, Inc., this debut Navona Records release of the same name, SPECTRA, highlights six contemporary composers from northeastern United States, who reflect the diversity and progression of today's music.
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