Born in Baltimore, Elizabeth R. Austin received her early musical training at The Peabody Conservatory. When Nadia Boulanger visited Goucher College (Towson, MD), she awarded the composer a scholarship to study at the Conservatoire Americaine in Fontainebleau, France, after hearing Austin’s Drei Rilke Lieder. Her association with the Hartt School of Music (University of Hartford), where she earned a Master’s in Music while on the faculty, included the establishment of a faculty/student exchange with the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik Heidelberg-Mannheim. While studying for 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).
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 also edited the book, Women of Influence in Contemporary Music: Nine American Composers, Scarecrow Press, 2011, also writing the chapter on Austin’s music. Dr. Teresa Crane, U. Illinois, wrote a DMA dissertation on Austin’s song cycles (2007). In several IAWM Journals (2001-2014), her music has been the subject of interviews and articles. The online journal SCOPE (Winter, 2011) has a feature article on her music. Dr. Austin was the BMI/Vanderbilt University Composer in Residence in 2015. An excerpt from Austins’ opera I am one and double too, was performed in a portrait concert. The Hartford Musical Club awarded her a commission and an Austin portrait concert in honor of their 125th anniversary in 2015. In 2017, Austin’s Litauische Lieder was performed in Berlin.
Other related publications:
Slayton, Michael K., editor, Women of Influence in Contemporary Music: Nine American Composers Scarecrow Press, 2011. Dr. Slayton wrote the chapter on Austin’s music and dedicated this book to her.
DMA dissertations on Elizabeth R. Austin’s music:
Michael K. Slayton, University of Houston, Reflected Light: The Music of Elizabeth Austin, 2000.
Teresa Crane, University of Illnois, Song Cycles of Dr. Elizabeth R. Austin; Sonnets from the Portuguese, Frauenliebe und Leben, and Birthday Bouquet, 2007
Interviews and journal articles (selected)
Scope (online journal, Canada), Winter, 2011: Slayton, “Composer-in-waiting”
Journal of the International Alliance for Women in Music, Fall, 2013, Hayes, Deborah, interview
Bruce Duffie, online and broadcast, interview (2005)
Music of Elizabeth R. Austin
Parma Recordings Albany Music Distributors, Inc. Leonarda Productions, Inc.
Elizabeth Austin: Reflected Light: Selected Chamber Works. Parma (Ravello) (CPS-8625): includes Klavier
Double for piano & tape (1983). Duration: 11:07. (earlier LP: Capstone Records, Jerome Reed, pianist.
Wilderness Symphony for 2 reciters & orchestra (1987). Duration: 19:00. “...and the eagle flies...” Krakau Radio/TV Orchestra, Szymon Kawalla conducting. Parma (Ravello): (CPS-8634)
Sonata for Soprano Recorder (1991). Duration: 14:44. Staatliche Hochschule für Musik Heidelberg-Mannheim (MH 1092), Stefanie Grundmann, recorder.
A Birthday Bouquet (1990). Duration: 8:46. Included in Time Marches On, Capstone Records (CPS-8646), Gregory Wiest, tenor and Oresta Cybriwsky, piano.
A Birthday Bouquet (1990). Duration: 8:24. Included in Songs by Women, Leonarda Productions, Inc. (LE 352), Susan Gonzalez, soprano and Marcia Eckert, piano.
Five Sonnets from the Portuguese (1988). Duration:11:00. Capstone Records (CPS-8618), Melinda Liebermann, soprano, Cornelius Witthöft, piano. SCI Recording Series.
The Master’s Hands (1994) for mixed chorus & piano. Duration: 4:02. Included in Spectra III, Capstone Records (CPS-8710), Kent Singers, Marguerite Mullee, conductor.
An American Triptych (2001) for piano solo. Duration: 8:35 Included in Spectra IV, Capstone Records (CPS-8732).
Puzzle Preludes (1994) for piano solo. Duration: 9:26 Included in Spectra IV, Capstone Records (CPS-8732).
A Falcon Fantasy (Falkenfantasie) (2004) for guitar & piano. Duration: 5:50. Included in Composition Feminine, Querstand (Germany)
Five Sonnets from the Portuguese (1988). Duration: 11:53. Included in Songs and Cycles, Leonarda Productions LE357, Linda McNeil, soprano, Carolyn True, piano.
Symphony No. 2 “Lighthouse” (1993) for orchestra. Duration: 22:02. Included in Spectra: Concert of Music for Orchestra, Capstone, 2007. Moravian Philharmonic, Joel Suben, conductor.
Rose Sonata (2002) for piano and reciter. Duration: 25:17. Included in Spectra: A Concert of Music by Connecticut Composers, Inc., Navona Records, 2014. Jerome Reed, piano, Composer, reciter.