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NYWC Spotlight: Elizabeth R. Austin

We are excited to continue our collaboration with the New York Women Composers. This month, we spotlight Dr. Elizabeth R. Austin.

Elizabeth R. Austin

Elizabeth R. Austin. Photo courtesy Elizabeth R. Austin.

Bio from Dr. Austin’s website:

Born in Baltimore, Elizabeth R. Austin received her early musical training at The Peabody Conservatory. When Nadia Boulanger visited Goucher College (Towson, MD), she awarded the composer a scholarship to study at the Conservatoire Americaine in Fontainebleau, France, after hearing Austin’s Drei Rilke Lieder.

Her association with the Hartt School of Music (University of Hartford), where she earned a Master’s in Music while on the faculty, included the establishment of a faculty/student exchange with the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik Heidelberg-Mannheim. While studying for her Ph.D. at The University of Connecticut, Elizabeth Austin won First Prize in the Lipscomb Electronic Music Competition (Klavier Double for piano and tape).

Her awards have included a Connecticut Commission on the Arts grant, selection by GEDOK (Society of Women Artists in Germany/Austria) to represent the Mannheim region in its 70th anniversary exhibition, and First Prize in IAWM’s 1998 Miriam Gideon Competition (for Homage for Hildegard [von Bingen], and a Rockefeller Foundation residency at Bellagio, Italy (2001).

Performed in Europe and Scandinavia, as well as in The United States and the Caribbean, Austin’s music has been received with distinction and critical acclaim. Featured on Germany’s Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk, the Leipzig pianist Ulrich Urban has championed her piano music, performing at the Gewandhaus and The National Gallery of Art.

Austin’s music is published by Arsis Press, Tonger Musikverlag, Peer Musik, Certosa and recorded on the Parma (Capstone) and Leonarda labels as well as on the 1994 Society of Composers CD and Journal (Vol. 20).  Her scores are available through the American Composers Alliance.

Featured Work: “Water Music I (Beside still waters…)” for Cello Octet


  • Title: “Water Music I (Beside still waters…)” 
  • Composer: Dr. Elizabeth R. Austin
  • Year of Composition: 1996
  • Instrumentation: cello octet
  • Movements: 1
  • Duration of Work: 8:04
  • Number of Measures: 70
  • Number of pages: 22
  • Tempo: Andante
  • Difficulty Level: advanced/professional
  • Highest Position Reached: thumb
  • Techniques Employed: tenor, treble, and bass clefs; glissandos and grace notes; 8/4, 2/4, 4/4, 9/4/3/4, 5/4, 6/4, and 10/8 time signatures; col legno and ponticello; triplets; double, triple, and quadruple stops; harmonics; con sordino
  • Publisher: Self-published
  • Where to Purchase the Score: Email Dr. Elizabeth R. Austin
  • Cost of Score*: $10


You may request a recording by contacting Dr. Elizabeth R. Austin directly via email.

Program Notes

“The ‘water’ of humanity, that of weeping, coupled with the image of the sea, inspire this lamentoso musical setting. Envisaging the sweep of waves, an ebb and flow, a rippling movement, the thrust of this single movement work is with the emotionally differentiated flow of time, both measurable and unending.

Water is boundless, tears wash over us all, suffering knows no boundaries…and yet this same water cleanses, purifies, refines, just as suffering can do….

The flow of time, like water, empties at different rates of speed, measuring psychological as well as physical or chronological time. This musical flow is emotionally compressed at times and also pulsates in grand arcs.” – Dr. Elizabeth R. Austin

Dr. Elizabeth R. Austin’s Other Work with a Prominent Cello Part

  • Circling for cello and piano (1982).
    • Duration: 9:00.
    • Published by Peter Tonger Verlag, 1996.
    • Capstone CD: CPS-8625

Interview with Dr. Elizabeth R. Austin


A Collaboration with the New York Women Composers (NYWC)

The NYWC series at the Cello Museum was created to showcase its members who have composed various pieces for cello, informing cellists seeking new music to add to their repertoire, and helping listeners find new favorites. Many thanks to the NYWC for this wonderful collaboration.

Read other installments in the series here.

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*Prices are accurate at the time of article publication, but the Cello Museum cannot take responsibility for subsequent price changes.