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Marilyn Nonken

Associate Professor of Music, Director of Piano Studies, Director of Doctoral Affairs (MPAP)

Music and Performing Arts Professions


Upon her 1993 recital debut, Marilyn Nonken was heralded as "a determined protector of important music" (New York Times). Since then, she has been recognized as "one of the greatest interpreters of new music" (American Record Guide). Writes Fanfare: “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.” (2015) 

She has presented at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Miller Theatre, the Guggenheim Museum, Neue Galerie, (le) Poisson Rouge, and Roulette (New York), IRCAM, Reid Hall, the Conservatoire Nationale Superieure, and the Théâtre Bouffe du Nord (Paris), the ABC and Judith Wright Center (Melbourne), Logos (Ghent), Instituto Chileno-Norteamericano (Santiago), Chicago Cultural Center and Symphony Center, Barnes Foundation (Philadelphia), Phillips Collection (Washington DC), Menil Collection and Rothko Chapel (Houston). Festival appearances include Résonances and the Festival d'Automne (Paris), When Morty Met John, Making Music, Works and Process, and Composers Now (New York), American Sublime (Philadelphia), The Festival of New American Music (Sacramento), Musica Nova (Helsinki), Aspects des Musiques d'Aujourd-hui (Caen), Rencontres Musicales de Jaugette, ATEMPO (Caracas), New Music Days (Ostrava), Musikhøst (Odense), Music on the Edge (Pittsburgh), Puerto Piano (San Juan), Piano Festival Northwest (Portland), NUNC! (Chicago), Unruly Music (Milwaukee), and the William Kapell International Piano Festival and Competition. Composers who have written for her include Michael Byron, Richard Carrick, Victoria Cheah, Jason Eckardt, Michael Finnissy, Michael Kuehn, Liza Lim, Tristan Murail, Arlene Sierra, Christopher Trapani, and Nina C. Young. 

A student of David Burge at the Eastman School, Marilyn Nonken received a Ph.D. in musicology from Columbia University. Her monograph The Spectral Piano (Cambridge University Press, 2015) has been received as “a screaming success …. Few books can boast as much, and it is gratifying to encounter an international concert performer who can make so engaging a discourse around her core repertoire." (Bob Gilmore, Tempo). She has written chapters for Perspectives on the Performance of French Piano MusicMessiaen Perspectives, and the forthcoming Messiaen in Context and Oxford Handbook of Spectral Music; served as a guest editor for Contemporary Music Review; and contributed articles to numerous journals. Her second book, Identity and Diversity in New Music: The New Complexities, is forthcoming from Routledge in 2019.

A Steinway artist, Marilyn Nonken has recorded for New World Records, Mode, Lovely Music, Albany, Metier, Divine Art, Hanging Bell, Harrison House, Innova, CRI, BMOP Sound, New Focus, Kairos, Tzadik, and Bridge. Forthcoming recordings include Morton Feldman's complete works for violoncello and piano, with Stephen Marotto (Mode).

Selected Publications

  • "Hugues Dufourt and L'origine du monde: 'La mémoire, c’est l’avenir du passé'," in Brian Christian (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Spectral Music (forthcoming 2018).
  • “Messiaen to Murail, or, What Sounds Become," in Scott McCarrey and Leslie A. Wright (eds.), Perspectives on the Performance of French Piano Music. Ashgate, 2014.
  • The Spectral Piano: From Liszt, Scriabin, and Debussy to the Digital Age. Cambridge University Press. 2014.
  • “Messiaen and the Spectralists," in Christopher Dingle and Robert Fallon (eds.), Messiaen Perspectives 2: Technique, Influence and Reception. Ashgate, 2013
  • "What Do Musical Chairs Afford? On Clarke's 'Ways of Listening' and Sacks's 'Musicophilia, " Ecological Psychology 20/4 (2008): 283-295.
  • "La notation ne peut rendre compte du fait:" Performing Murail's 'Territoires de l'Oubli," Tempo 244/62 (2008): 2-10.
  • "Performers on Performance," (guest editor), Contemporary Music Review 21/1 (2002).
  • "The Pianist's Space," Newsletter of the Institute for American Music (2000).
  • "Review of Music Theory in Concept and Practice, ed. James M. Baker, David W. Beach, and Jonathan Bernard," Current Musicology 62 (1998).


Piano Studies

Hone your skills as a piano performer in New York City through course work, one-on-one mentorship, solo recitals, concerto performances, and more.


Performing Arts Research Collegium

Doctoral dissertation advisement with dissertation committee coordinated with seminars in which students present their works in progress and discuss research problems. Current researchers in the performing arts are invited to share research and writing.
Course #
Fall, Spring


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