The Kennedy Center

Douglas Allanbrook


A well-known harpsichordist, Douglas Allanbrook was also a composer, lyricist, pianist and arranger. Born in 1921 in Melrose, Massachusetts, at an early age his aptitude for composing was already apparent. His compositions are smooth, showing astute sense, assertiveness, and originality. He studied with Nadia Boulanger in Boston before World War II, and later in Paris. During his formative years, his works showed influence of Boulanger and Stravinsky, both of whom he honored and admired.

In 1951, he wrote Ethan Frome an opera about a forbidden love story. In 1955, he played its piano part for Aaron Copland at the Harvard Club. Allanbrook shelved his composition for 50 years when, later, with his son John acting as Director, the opera premiered at the Eliot House.

He wrote seven symphonies for piano and harpsichord works. His compositions have been performed by orchestras across America and Europe, and commissioned by the National Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, the Annapolis Brass Quintet, the Stuttgart Philharmonic.

For 45 years, he was a professor on the faculty of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. He thought music, math, philosophy, Greek and French languages. He died at the age of 81 in Annapolis, Maryland.
Douglas Allanbrook


  • Symphony in Three Movements