Discipline: Music Composition

William Austin

Discipline: Music Composition
Region: Ithaca, NY
MacDowell Fellowships: 1941
William Austin (1920 - 2000) was an American composer and musicologist who was born in Lawton, Oklahoma. Austin joined the Cornell faculty in 1947 where he served as an assistant professor and the university organist. He went on to become the head of Cornell’s music department from 1958 to 1963. In 1969, he was elected Goldwin Smith Professor of Musicology, as well as being elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Throughout his career, Austin received numerous prizes and awards, such as a Guggenheim Fellowship, the E.J. Dent Prize from the International Musicology Society and the Otto Kinkeldey Prize of the American Musicology Society for his book Music in the Twentieth Century: From Debussy to Stravinsky (Norton, 1966). He authored and co-authored many books on a variety of topics, from the cultural significance of Foster’s songs, to Italian Opera, to Debussy’s Preludes. He also wrote numerous articles for Music Quarterly and Music Review, and contributed to the Groves Dictionary of Music and Musicians. In 1996 Cornell honored Austin by establishing an endowment in his name, creating the William Austin Endowment for Music Library Materials.



William Austin worked in the Chapman studio.

Chapman Studio was funded by Mrs. Alice Woodrough Chapman in memory of her husband, composer George Alexander Chapman. Symmetrically massed, the building is stuccoed on the exterior with a natural, unpainted cement. Its unusual half-timbered ornament consists of slender, knotty spruce poles painted a dark green color. A central, peak-roofed entrance porch appears on the north side…

Learn more