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John Austin

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John Austin

Biography

John Austin is an American composer.

Austin studied with Roy Harris; Robert Lombardo (Roosevelt University M.M. 1973); and Ralph Shapey (University of Chicago Ph.D. 1981).

Dr. Austin’s music spans works for piano, orchestra, chorus, a variety of chamber ensembles -- with and without voice -- music theater, and opera. The Orpheus Trio performed his Orpheus and the Maenads on their 1977-78 tour of the U.S. and Canada. His Designs and Refrain (1975) won the Percussive Arts Society’s National Award; and Opera News reviewed his one-act rock and roll opera Orpheus in March 1966, several months before The Who’s Tommy. Austin’s opera Heloise and Abelard received its first performance (in concert form) in 2012.

Austin’s choral and chamber vocal works include settings of Ezra Pound, William Blake, and Richard Wilbur among others. These works have been heard at Tanglewood and at Harvard. Orchestral works include Fantasia on Johann Pachelbel’s Magnificat Fuga, Quinti Toni, No. IV (1994), Echoes of Loss and Regret, Three American Love Songs for Soprano, Tenor and String Orchestra (2019), When Twilight (2019), and Gallery Songs (2021). Theater works include a ballet in progress and innovative music for MacArthur fellow Naomi Wallace’s tragic one-act play No Such Cold Thing about two teenage Afghan girls and an American GI.

Austin has taught music at the Latin School of Chicago, Roosevelt University, Columbia College, and the University of Illinois in Chicago.


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