Northwestern University Music, Literature, and Arts

by Sylviastel | created - 28 Jan 2015 | updated - 02 Feb 2015 | Public

Jack Anderson; New York Times dance critic.

Ernst Bacon; composer Mary Jo Bang; BA MA; 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award winner for poetry collection, "Elegy;" English professor at Washington University in St. Louis. Chris Bliss; juggler William Butler; BA 2005; Arcade Fire band member.

Mark Camphouse; composer and conductor. Dan Chaon; author Andrew Clements; author

Julia Davids; founding member and Artistic director of the Canadian Chamber Choir. Cynthia Dobrinski; handbell composer and clinician. Ivan Doig; BSJ, MSJ; novelist.

Shari Goldhagen; author. James Green (BA 1996) author.

Amir Hamed; Uruguaya writer. Myron Hunt; architect.

Payal Kapadia; MSJ 1999; author, winner of the 2013 Crossword Book Award for Children's Writing in India. Brendan Kelly; member of the Lawrence Arms. Ardis Krainik; BS 1951; former General Manager of Chicago Lyric Opera.

Karen A. Page; writer.

Tina Rosenberg; BA 1981, MSJ; Pulitzer Prize winning author and journalist. William M. Runyan; Christian songwriter who composed 'Great is Thy Faithfulness.'

Warren Spector; game designer. Michael Sprinker; former literary theorist.

Trevanian; author. Thomas Tyra; BA 1954; MA 1955; composer, music educator, bandmaster.

Kate Walbert; BA 1983; National Book Award nominated writer. Margaret Walker; BA 1935; poet and author.

Claire Zulkey; author.

1. Steve Albini

Soundtrack | Hustler White

Steve Albini was born on July 22, 1962 in Pasadena, California, USA. He is an actor, known for Hustler White (1996), Girl on the Third Floor (2019) and Upright Citizens Brigade (1998).

2. Marie Arana

Writer | Girl Rising

Marie Arana is a writer, known for Girl Rising (2013) and The Liberation of One: The Defection of Romuald Spasowski. She has been married to Jonathan Yardley since March 21, 1999.

editor of the Washington Post Book World; Author of the National Book Award finalist, American Chica and the Cellophane novel.

3. Steven Bach

Producer | Mr. Billion

Steven Bach was born on April 29, 1938 in Pocatello, Idaho, USA. He was a producer and writer, known for Mr. Billion (1977), Butch and Sundance: The Early Days (1979) and Final Cut: The Making and Unmaking of Heaven's Gate (2004). He was married to Werner Rohr. He died on March 25, 2009 in ...

BA 1961;

4. Saul Bellow

Actor | Zelig

Saul Bellow was born on June 10, 1915 in Lachine, Québec, Canada as Solomon Bellows. He was a writer and actor, known for Zelig (1983), Henderson the Rain King and Thirty-Minute Theatre (1965). He was married to Janis Freedman Bellow, Alexandra Ionesco Tuleca, Susan Glassman, Alexandra Tschacbasov ...

BA 1937; Nobel Laureate

5. Andrew Bird

Soundtrack | The Muppets

Andrew Bird was born on July 11, 1973 in Illinois, USA as Andrew Wegman Bird.

BM 1995; singer songwriter.

6. Anthony Bozza

Writer | Rockville CA

Anthony Bozza is a writer, known for Rockville CA (2009), Blue Gold: American Jeans (2014) and Autopsy: The Last Hours of (2014).

music journalist.

7. Grace Bumbry

Actress | Carmen

Grace Bumbry was born on January 4, 1937 in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. She is an actress, known for Carmen (1969), The Hudsucker Proxy (1994) and Aïda (1977). She was previously married to Andreas Jaeckel.

mezzo soprano

8. Robert Olen Butler

Writer | Jealous Husband Returns

Son is television editor/director Joshua Butler.

BS 1967; Pulitzer Price winning author.

9. Lydia R. Diamond

Producer | The Affair

Lydia R. Diamond is a producer and writer, known for The Affair (2014), My America (2012) and Working in the Theatre (1976).

BS 1992; playwright and Boston University professor.

10. Tananarive Due

Actress | From Cape Town with Love

Tananarive Due is an actress and writer, known for From Cape Town with Love (2010), Danger Word (2013) and Miles Underwater. She has been married to Steven Barnes since August 1, 1998. They have one child.

former member of OK Go.

12. Mary Dunleavy

Actress | Lincoln

Mary Dunleavy is an actress, known for Lincoln (2012), The Metropolitan Opera Presents (1977) and A Hand of Bridge (2017).


13. Wilma Dykeman

Self | The Electric Valley

Wilma Dykeman was born on May 20, 1920 in Asheville, North Carolina, USA. She was married to James R. Stokely Jr. She died on December 22, 2006 in Asheville.


14. Timothy Ferris

Writer | Dark Universe

Timothy Ferris is a writer and producer, known for Dark Universe (2013), Seeing in the Dark (2007) and Life Beyond Earth (1998).

science author

15. William R. Ferris

The Color Purple

William R. Ferris is known for his work on The Color Purple (1985), The Loving Story (2011) and Wild Women Don't Have the Blues (1989).

MA 1965; former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

16. Gillian Flynn

Writer | Gone Girl

Gillian Flynn was born on February 24, 1971 in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. She is a writer and producer, known for Gone Girl (2014), Widows (2018) and Sharp Objects (2018). She has been married to Brett Nolan since 2007. They have two children.

MS; former Entertainment Weekly television critic.

17. Kyle Gann

Composer | The Planets

Kyle Gann is a composer, known for The Planets (2011), Trimpin: The Sound of Invention (2009) and Tones, Drones and Arpeggios: The Magic of Minimalism (2018).

composer, microtonalist.

18. Chester Gould

Writer | Dick Tracy

Chester Gould was interested in comics from an early age. He wrote and drew several strips while attending Oklahoma A&M University and at Northwestern University (where he graduated in 1921). After graduating from the Chicago Art Institute in 1923, Gould went to work for a Chicago area newspaper. ...


19. Ayun Halliday

Actor | Hamlet

Ayun Halliday is an actor, known for Hamlet (2000) and Cracked (2016).

actor and author

20. Howard Hanson

Soundtrack | Alien

Composer, conductor and educator, himself educated at the University of Nebraska School of Music (with an honorary Music Degree), Juilliard, Northwestern University (honorary Music Degree), the American Academy (Prix de Rome), Syracuse University, the Horner Institute, Augustana College and ...


21. Aleksandar Hemon

Writer | Sense8

Aleksandar Hemon is a writer and actor, known for Sense8 (2015), Love Island (2014) and The Matrix 4 (2021).

MA 1996; author and MacArthur Fellow.

22. Sheldon Harnick

Music_department | Fiddler on the Roof

Sheldon Harnick was born on April 30, 1924 in Chicago, Illinois, USA as Sheldon Mayer Harnick. He has been married to Margery Gray since October 1965. He was previously married to Elaine May and Mary Boatner.


23. Jay Krush

Music_department | American Experience


24. William Lava

Soundtrack | A Serious Man

He was an extremely prolific and capable film composer, educated at Northwestern University. He studied conducting with Albert Coates, and came to Hollywood in 1936. His chief collaborators were Harry Tobias, Stan Jones, Max Steiner, Sammy Cahn, Franz Waxman, Henry Mancini, Ray Heindorf, and Frank ...

25. Laura Lippman

Writer | Every Secret Thing

Laura Lippman was born on January 31, 1959 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. She is a writer, known for Every Secret Thing (2014), The Wire (2002) and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (2005). She is married to David Simon. They have one child.

BSJ; mystery novelist.

26. Margaret Lloyd

Actress | Great Performances

Margaret Lloyd is an actress, known for Great Performances (1971) and CyberMage: Darklight Awakening (1995).


27. George R.R. Martin

Writer | Game of Thrones

George R.R. Martin is an American novelist and short-story writer in the fantasy, horror, and science fiction genres, a screenwriter, and television producer. He is known for his international bestselling series of epic fantasy novels, A Song of Ice and Fire, which was later adapted into the HBO ...

BSJ 1970; MSJ 1971; author.

28. Luke Matheny

Director | God of Love

Luke Matheny was born on December 23, 1976 in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, USA. He is a producer and director, known for God of Love (2010), Gortimer Gibbon's Life on Normal Street (2014) and Ghostwriter (2019).

BSJ 1997.

29. Sherrill Milnes

Actor | Tosca

Sherrill Milnes was born on January 10, 1935 in Downers Grove, Illinois, USA. He is an actor, known for Tosca (1976), How Much Do You Love Me? (2005) and Quartet (2012).


encyclopedist and author.

31. Audrey Niffenegger

Writer | The Time Traveler's Wife

Audrey Niffenegger was born on June 13, 1963 in South Haven, Michigan, USA. She is a writer, known for The Time Traveler's Wife (2009), Jakob and the Angels (2007) and The Real History of Science Fiction (2014).

MFA 1991.

32. Bruce Norris

Actor | The Sixth Sense

Bruce Norris was born on May 16, 1960 in Houston, Texas, USA. He is an actor, known for The Sixth Sense (1999), All Good Things (2010) and A Civil Action (1998).

BA 1982;

BSJ 1986; novelist.

34. Marge Piercy

Writer | The Bonsai Tree

Marge Piercy was born on March 31, 1936 in the USA. She is a writer, known for The Bonsai Tree (1989), Literary Visions (1992) and Bookmark (1983).

novelist and poet.

36. Neal Pollack

Writer | Alternadad

Neal Pollack is a writer, known for Alternadad, Sodom by the Sea (2008) and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (1996).

BSJ 1992; satirical author and journalist.

37. Joshua Radin

Soundtrack | Adam

Is romantically involved with actress and singer songwriter Schuyler Fisk who currently tours with and opens for him. (April 2007).

singer songwriter.

38. Kathy Reichs

Writer | Bones

Kathy Reichs was born on July 7, 1948 in Chicago, Illinois, USA as Kathleen Joan Toelle. She is a writer and producer, known for Bones (2005), Wolfe and Crime Connections (2012). She has been married to Paul Aivars Reichs since 1968. They have three children.


39. Steve Rodby

Music_department | The Falcon and the Snowman

Steve Rodby is known for his work on The Falcon and the Snowman (1985), Pat Metheny: The Unity Sessions (2015) and A Map of the World (1999).

jazz bassist

40. Ned Rorem

Composer | Ned Rorem: Word & Music

Ned Rorem was born on October 23, 1923 in Richmond, Indiana, USA. He is a composer, known for Ned Rorem: Word & Music (2005), Nuit américaine (2005) and For the Whales (1989).


41. Veronica Roth

Writer | Divergent

Veronica Roth was born on August 19, 1988 in New York, New York, USA as Veronica Anne Roth. She is a writer and actress, known for Divergent (2014), Insurgent (2015) and Allegiant (2016).

New York Times best selling author.

43. Thom Russo

Music_department | Spider-Man

Thom Russo is a multi-Grammy award-winning American record producer, composer, programmer, songwriter, and mixer.

He is originally from Cleveland, Ohio; he studied computer music and music theory at Northwestern University, in Chicago, Illinois.

Russo is best known for a widely diverse career, ...

BA 1988; Grammy winning record producer, mixer, and musician.

44. David Sanborn

Soundtrack | Lethal Weapon 2

David Sanborn was born on July 30, 1945 in Tampa, Florida, USA. He is known for his work on Lethal Weapon 2 (1989), Lethal Weapon 3 (1992) and Lethal Weapon (1987).


46. Sandra Seacat

Actress | Crazy in Alabama

From the mid-1970s on, Sandra Seacat has been one of America's more sought-after and influential acting teachers/coaches. A method-based actor and teacher, closely associated with the Method's originator, her mentor Lee Strasberg, Seacat gradually became recognized as well for her groundbreaking ...

actress, acting teacher, coach, director.

47. Sidney Sheldon

Writer | Easter Parade

Sheldon was born in Chicago on February 17, 1917. He began writing as a youngster and at the age of ten he made his first sale of a poem for $10. During the Depression, he worked at a variety of jobs and while attending Northwestern University he contributed short plays to drama groups.

At seventeen...

author; never graduated.

48. Philip Skinner

Actor | La Rondine

Philip Skinner is an actor, known for La Rondine (2009) and L'africaine (1988).

opera singer.

49. Jon Solomon

Music_department | A Dirty Shame

DJ and record label owner.

BA Film 1989; singer, songwriter, lead vocalist of Dog Eye's View.

51. Frederick Swann

Location_management | Wrecked

Frederick Swann is known for his work on Wrecked (2016), Sweetheart (2019) and Fantasy Island (2020).

organist and President of the American Guild of Organists.

52. Jerod Tate

Music_department | To the Wonder

Praised and honored for "his ability to effectively infuse classical music with American Indian nationalism (Washington Post, Nov. 23, 2005)," Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate, born in 1968 in Norman, Oklahoma, is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and its Composer-in-Residence. Tate is dedicated to the...


53. Augusta Read Thomas

Composer | All-Star Orchestra

Augusta Read Thomas is a composer, known for All-Star Orchestra (2013) and Inside New Music - Contempo at 50 (2015).

BM 1987; composer.

54. Walter Wager

Writer | Die Hard 2

Graduated from Harvard Law School. Was a Fullbright Fellow at the Sorbonne in Paris, and diplomatic advisor to Israel's Director of Civil Aviation, and editor of "Playbill" & "Show". Has written articles to magazines, written novles under a psuedonym and written documetaries for television and for ...


55. Nike Wagner

Self | Lesen! Mit Elke Heidenreich

Nike Wagner was born on June 9, 1945 in Überlingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. She is married to Jürg Stenzl. She was previously married to Jean Launay.


56. Doug Wamble

Music_department | The Central Park Five

Doug Wamble is known for his work on The Central Park Five (2012), The Subject (2020) and Dog Camp: A Dogumentary (2016). He has been married to Morgan James since 2016.

M.M. 1997; musician and composer.

BA 1985; poet, author.

58. Paul Winter

Composer | Tatort


59. Rachael Yamagata

Soundtrack | In Her Shoes

Husky-voiced singer, songwriter, pianist, and guitarist Rachael Yamagata was born on September 23, 1977 in Arlington, Virginia. Her father is a Japanese-American attorney and Harvard graduate who works in Washington, D.C. while her mother is a German-Italian artist and painter based in New York ...

BS 1997; musician.

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