Marilyn Nonken is one of the most celebrated champions of the modern repertoire of her generation, known for performances that explore transcendent virtuosity and extremes of musical expression. Upon her 1993 New York debut, she was heralded as "a determined protector of important music" (New York Times). She is recognized as"one of the greatest interpreters of new music" (American Record Guide). "Her voicings are exquisite, her pedaling throughout is a model to be studied, and, when necessary, her virtuosity is equaled only by the insight and passion with which every piece is imbued." (Fanfare)
Marilyn Nonken's performances have been presented at such venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Miller Theatre, the Guggenheim Museum, (Le) Poisson Rouge, Roulette (all New York), Constellation (Chicago), IRCAM and the Théâtre Bouffe du Nord (Paris), the American Academy in Rome, the ABC (Melbourne), Instituto Chileno-Norteamericano (Santiago), Music Gallery (Toronto), Phillips Collection (Washington DC), and Menil Collection (Houston). Festival appearances include NUNC! (Chicago), the Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice (Boston), When Morty Met John, Making Music, Works and Process, and Composers Now (all New York), Peak Performances (Montclair), American Sublime (Philadelphia), The Festival of New American Music (Sacramento), Music on the Edge (Pittsburgh), Piano Festival Northwest (Portland), Unruly Music (Milwaukee), and the William Kapell International Piano Festival and Competition, as well as Résonances and the Festival d'Automne (both Paris), the Festival Rencontres Musicales (Jaugette), Musica Nova (Helsinki), Aspects des Musiques d'Aujourd-hui (Caen), Messiaen 2008 (Birmingham, UK), ATEMPO (Caracas), New Music Days (Ostrava), Musikhøst (Odense). Highlights of recent seasons have included not only solo recitals, but performances of Olivier Messiaen's Visions de l'Amen (Houston and New York, with Sarah Rothenberg and Peter Hill, respectively) and Gerard Grisey's Vortex Temporum with Sound Icon (Boston, New York). Composers who have written for her include Milton Babbitt, Drew Baker, Pascal Dusapin, Jason Eckardt, Michael Finnissy, Joshua Fineberg, Liza Lim, Elizabeth Hoffman, and Tristan Murail. In 2015-2015, she premiered new works written for her by Edmund Campion, Richard Carrick, Victoria Cheah, Brian Erickson, Mikel Kuehn, Christopher Trapani, and Nina C. Young.
She has recorded more than 20 discs for New World Records, Mode, Lovely Music, Albany, Metier, Divine Art, Innova, CRI, BMOP Sound, New Focus, Kairos, Tzadik, and Bridge. Solo recordings include "American Spiritual," a CD of works written for her, “Morton Feldman: Triadic Memories,” “Tristan Murail: The Complete Piano Music,” “Stress Position: The Complete Piano Music of Drew Baker," and "Voix Voilees: Spectral Music for Piano." She appears as concerto soloist in David Rakowski's Piano Concerto (Gil Rose and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project), Roger Reynolds's “The Angel of Death (Magnus Martensson and the Slee Sinfonietta), and Jason Eckardt's "Trespass" (Timothy Weiss and the Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble). Her most recent release is Three Pieces for Two Pianos, by Larry Polansky, on which she appears with Joseph Kubera; the recording was described as "coming to exquisite and eventually orgasmic life" in the May 2016 Gramophone.
A student of David Burge at the Eastman School, Marilyn Nonken received a Ph.D. degree in musicology from Columbia University. Her writings on music have been published in Tempo, Perspectives of New Music, Contemporary Music Review, Agni, Current Musicology, Ecological Psychology, the Journal of the Institute for Studies in American Music, Music and Medicine, and the Journal of Hand Therapy. She has contributed chapters to “Perspectives on the Performance of French Piano Music” and “Messiaen Perspectives 2: Techniques, Influence, and Reception” (both Ashgate). Her monograph, "The Spectral Piano: From Liszt, Scriabin, and Debussy to the Digital Age" (Cambridge) was published in 2014. Marilyn Nonken is a Steinway Artist.