Skip to main content

Search NYU Steinhardt


Marilyn Nonken

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) Since 2006, she has been Director of Piano Studies at NYU's Steinhardt School, where she is Professor of Music.

She has been 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, 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), The 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. 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) 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, 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.

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.  Upcoming releases include Morton Feldman's complete works for violoncello and piano with Stephen Marotto (Mode). solo music for piano scordatura by Nina C. Young (Innova), and the ragtime of Scott Joplin, Louis Chauvin, Joseph Lamb, Scott Hayden, and Arthur Marshall (Divine Art).

Selected Publications

  • “The Performer in the Music of Milton Babbitt.” Contemporary Music Review (forthcoming).
  • “Messiaen and Spectralism.” In Messiaen in Context. Edited by Robert Sholl. Cambridge University Press (forthcoming).
  • Nonken, Marilyn. “An Attitude Towards the Performance of Spectral Music.”in Amy Bauer, Liam Cagney, and Will Mason (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Spectral Music (forthcoming).
  • "Hugues Dufourt and L'origine du monde: 'La mémoire, c’est l’avenir du passé'," in Amy Bauer, Liam Cagney, and Will Mason (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Spectral Music (forthcoming).
  • Identity and Diversity in New Music: The New Complexities. Routledge, 2019.
  • “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 pianist through lessons with a renowned Artist Faculty, innovative coursework, dedicated mentorship, and unparalleled performance opportunities.

Read More