Phillip Nathan Kawin

September 30, 1956September 9, 2021

Phillip Nathan Kawin, beloved pianist, and teacher at Manhattan School of Music, passed away in New York City on September 9, 2021. He lives on in his music, in his students, and in the hearts of all those who love him.


  • Private Service Available via Live Stream 11AM Central Standard Time

    Sunday, September 12, 2021



Phillip Nathan Kawin

have a memory or condolence to add?

Sarah Choi

September 22, 2021

My memory of Prof. Philip Kawin still remains in my heart even after 15 years. When I was studying at MSM for my Master's Degree, I encountered him almost everyday at school because my teacher's studio was right next to his. He was the one who left school at very late night, practicing after long day of teaching.
It seemed like he had no break, but he was always full of energy talking about music, friendly and thoughtful to everybody he encountered. Under such a competitive environment in a music school, he was extraordinarily a warm-hearted person who showed true love for music and people.
I had a hopeful plan of knocking on the door of his studio to say long time no see when visiting New York, which won't happen..
An important lesson of beautiful human being first before music playing that I had seen from prof. Kawin will still be one of the greatest gifts I have received from MSM.

Katie Meloan

September 17, 2021

We met in the faculty lounge at MSM. I didn't know you, but you quickly began conversing with me. You were infectiously friendly and charming. It was refreshing. There was no pretense, just a nice person - speaking kindly to another human being.


David Friend

September 16, 2021

I met Mr. Kawin when I was a clueless teenager trying to figure out how to actually pursue a career in music, and was completely flabbergasted when in our first lesson together, I didn't get past the first 6 notes of Debussy's 'Feux d'artifice' for three hours! A few days later, after gathering my gumption and playing the same piece in a recital, he came up to me and said 'For someone who has absolutely no idea what they're doing, that was a great performance.' I was thrilled, embarrassed, intrigued...

Fast forward a couple years and I was a student at the Manhattan School of Music, which I chose to attend specifically to study with Kawin. Over my 6 years of study with him there, I developed the skills to become the musician I am today -- transforming from a struggling hustler with a massive inferiority complex to a pianist with the arsenal of skills and the sense of self to pursue my dreams and achieve them.

Looking back now as an adult and a professional, I am in awe of Kawin's profound gifts as a pianist and educator. His approach to the instrument is unique, profound, and, frankly, brilliant -- I feel truly blessed to carry on this pianistic legacy. At the same time, the dedication and care that he took with his students was remarkable. Our studio truly felt like a family and he allowed each of us to blossom in our own way -- musically and personally.

What an eccentric, one-of-a-kind constellation of brilliance and grace you were, dear PNK. I hope that we, your students, are up to the impossible task of following in your precious footsteps.

Thank you for changing my life. May your memory be a blessing.


Heather Hamilton

September 15, 2021

Dear Phil,
Although I was not officially your student, you invited me to attend your studio classes to listen and learn. I was so fortunate to be a part of the PK family at MSM. I will be eternally grateful for learning so much by watching you work with my friends, who were your students. You were also an inspiration to us all as a teacher, performer and alum. You always gave back to MSM. I will forever remember you.
May you Rest In Peace.

Lydia Artymiw

September 15, 2021

Hearing the news about Dr. Kawin's tragic passing is such a shock, and it's difficult to believe that he has left us. Phil and I were jurors for several of the Juilliard Piano Concerto Competitions in the past few years, and it was always such a pleasure to see him and catch up afterwards. His energy, enthusiasm, and smile were infectious, and I will always cherish these special memories. May you rest in peace, dear Phillip, and know how much we all miss you.

Hugh Graham

September 15, 2021

Dear Phil-
You have lived inside of me for so many years. I am aware every day that my joy in playing would not exist without the gift you bestowed on me. I was lucky- I met you before you began teaching at MSM, and your schedule allowed for us to work together for 2 hours every day of the week, every day of the year- for seven years. Though I was already able to play, I felt in my core that I was lacking something essential, the real thing, the thing that all great pianists have to have acquired at some point- that absolute technical foundation which cannot be replaced by anything else. You knew that it would take daily extraordinarily meticulous work to achieve this. Your willingness was something I’ve never seen before or since. It was your refusal to stop before we got there, it was your faith in me, your confidence in yourself, your joy in the process, your joy in sharing your knowledge and the results that showed up. I knew that all you wanted was for me to acquire that freedom which would bring joy. It has. You live inside of me every day, and I am awed by the experience we shared. My gratitude to you is immeasurable. I say goodbye with great love.

Riko Higuma

September 15, 2021

I have studied with Mr Kawin for 6 years at the Manhattan School of Music for my bachelor's and master's degrees. I am the pianist and the person today because of Mr Kawin. He taught literally every finger of mine how to behave, but never just for the mechanical improvement but always to serve the great music we love. He treated every music and human with dignity and love.
Mr Kawin, I want to say million thank yous to you, I wished I did that more when I saw you at school, I'm sorry. I am forever indebted to you. I will keep practicing to make you proud.

William Goldstein

September 14, 2021

I met Phillip a number of years ago and we would occasionally get together while I was in town. Had a 2008 memorable alumni brunch, I volunteered to create a three note instant composition, if someone would donate $1000 to MSM for the honor of picking three notes. Phillip volunteered. It was extremely generous of him to do so. And I was honored, he was I think head of the piano faculty at the time. In any case I share my condolences,

I've always believed the quality of our lives is directly proportionate to, quality of the people, in our lives. We are all blessed to have know Phillip.

William Goldstein

Dylan Maulucci

September 14, 2021

I remember Phillip when I was at MSM. He was very classy.

Robert Cassidy

September 14, 2021

Dear Phil,

Though I was never your student at MSM, I was always grateful to you for your encouraging words after juries or a recital. Thank you for your support and inspiration.

My condolences to all who knew and loved him at MSM and beyond.

Rest In Peace,