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Marilyn Nonken

Professor of Music and Music Education; Chair, Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions

Music and Performing Arts Professions


Upon her 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) In 2006, she came to NYU Steinhardt as Director of Piano Studies. In 2022, she was appointed Chair of the Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions, where she continues to teach.

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) was 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). Identity and Diversity in New Music: The New Complexities (Routledge) was published in July 2019. She has written chapters for Perspectives on the Performance of French Piano MusicMessiaen Perspectives, Messiaen in Context, and The Oxford Handbook of Spectral Music; served as a guest editor for Contemporary Music Review; and contributed articles to numerous journals. 

As a pianist, she has been presented at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center,  the Guggenheim Museum, Neue Galerie, and Roulette (New York), IRCAM, Reid Hall, and the Théâtre Bouffe du Nord (Paris), the ABC (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), and conservatories and universities around the world. Festival appearances include Résonances and the Festival d'Automne (Paris), Musica Nova (Helsinki), Aspects des Musiques d'Aujourd-hui (Caën), Rencontres Musicales de Jaugette, ATEMPO (Caracas), New Music Days (Ostrava), Musikhøst (Odense),When Morty Met John, Making Music, Works and Process, and  Composers Now (New York), American Sublime (Philadelphia), Festival of New American Music (Sacramento),  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.

A Steinway artist, Marilyn Nonken has recorded for New World, Mode, Lovely Music, Albany, Metier, Hanging Bell, Harrison House, CRI, BMOP Sound, New Focus, Kairos, Tzadik, and Bridge.

Selected Publications

And Recordings

  • Morton Feldman: Complete Works for Piano and Violoncello. With Stephen Marotto, vcl. Mode. 2024.
  • *Messiaen and Spectralism.” In Olivier Messiaen in Context. Cambridge, 2023.
  • "Performance Practices: David Burge, Robert Miller, and the Makrokosmos.” Contemporary Music Review 41/1 (2022).
  • “The Performer in the Music of Milton Babbitt.” Contemporary Music Review 40/2 (2022).
  • “The Spectral Attitude and Its Relation to Performance.” In The Oxford Handbook of Spectral Music. Oxford, 2022.
  • Review of John Holzaepfel, “David Tudor ‘Solo for Piano’ by John Cage, Second Realization.” Edition and Critical Commentary. Notes: Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association 78/3 (2022).
  • "Hugues Dufourt and L'origine du monde: 'La mémoire, c’est l’avenir du passé'." In The Oxford Handbook of Spectral Music. Oxford, 2022.
  • Syncopated Musings: Rags, Concert Waltzes, and Novelties for the Pianoforte by Scott Joplin and His Collaborators. Divine Art dda25220, 2022.  
  • Christopher Trapani: Horizontal Drift. New Focus 296, 2022.
  • Richard Carrick: Lanterne. With Either/Or, Mivos Quartet. New Focus FCR273, 2020.
  • Identity and Diversity in New Music: The New Complexities. Routledge, 2019.
  • Akemi Naito: Within My Soul. With Jessica Bowers, mezzo. Ravello RR8022, 2019.
  • “Identity and Diversity in New Music: Seeking a Connected Musical Society.” 21CM 52, June 2019.
  • Christopher Trapani: Waterlines. With JACK Quartet, Talea. New Focus FCR200, 2018.
  • Lou Bunk: A Shadow Upon the White. With Augustus Arnone, pno. Hanging Bell, 2018.
  • Michael Byron: The Ultraviolet of Many Parallel Paths. With Joseph Kubera, pno. 2018.
  • "Introduction." Timeless Relevance: The Keyboard Magazine Columns. Chelsea Books, 2018.
  • Larry Polansky: Three Pieces for Two Pianos. With Joseph Kubera, pno. New World 80777-2, 2016.
  • Miguel Chuaqui: Confabulario. Ravello RR7939 2016.
  • Jason Eckardt: Subject. With ICE, JACK Quartet. Tzadik 9006, 2015.
  • Paul Nauert: A Distant Music. New World 80769, 2015.
  • “Messiaen to Murail, or, What Sounds Become." In Perspectives on the Performance of French Piano Music. Ashgate, 2014.
  • The Spectral Piano: From Liszt, Scriabin, & Debussy to the Digital Age. Cambridge, 2014.
  • “Messiaen and the Spectralists." In Messiaen Perspectives 2: Technique, Influence and Reception. Ashgate, 2013.
  • Voix Voilées: Spectral Piano Music. Metier MSV-CD 28524, 2012.
  • Drew Baker: Stress Position. New Focus FCR116, 2011.
  • Olivier Messiaen: Visions de l’Amen. With Sarah Rothenberg, pno. Bridge 9324, 2010.
  • Brian Ferneyhough: Terrain. With Elision. Kairos 013072KAI, 2010.
  • David Laganella: The Calls of Gravity. With Prism Quartet. New Focus FCR114, 2010.
  • Chris Bailey: Immolation Ritual. Innova 695, 2010.
  • Roger Reynolds: Epigram and Evolution - Complete Piano Works. Mode 212, 2009.
  • David Rakowski: Winged Contraption. With Boston Modern Orchestra Project. BMOP Sound 1009, 2009.
  • "What Do Musical Chairs Afford? On Clarke's 'Ways of Listening' and Sacks's 'Musicophilia," Ecological Psychology 20/4 (2008).
  • "La notation ne peut rendre compte du fait:" Performing Murail's 'Territoires de l'Oubli," Tempo 244/62 (2008).
  • Chris Dench: Beyond Status Geometry. With Libra Ensemble. Tzadik tx8044. 2008.
  • William Albright: Music for Saxophones. With Prism Quartet. Innova 231, 2008.
  • Salvatore Martirano: O, O, O, O That Shakespeherian Rag. New World NW80535, 2007.
  • Charles Wuorinen: Adapting to the Times. With Fred Sherry, vcl. Albany/Troy 871, 2006.
  • Louis Karchin: Matrix. With Taimur Sullivan, sax. Albany/Troy 895, 2006.
  • Tristan Murail: The Complete Piano Music. Metier. MSV-CD 92097, 2005.
  • Morton Feldman: Triadic Memories. Mode CD/DVD 136, 2004.
  • Jason Eckardt: Out of Chaos. With Ensemble 21. Mode CD 137, 2004.
  • David Rakowski: Martian Counterpoint. With US Marine Band. Albany/Troy 681, 2004.
  • "Performers on Performance," (guest editor), Contemporary Music Review 21/1 (2002).
  • Alvin Lucier: Still Lives. LCD 501, 2001.
  • American Spiritual. CRI 877, 2001.
  • "The Pianist's Space," Newsletter of the Institute for American Music (2000).
  • "Review of Music Theory in Concept and Practice," Current Musicology 62 (1998).


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