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Featured Composer: George Walker

George Walker (1922-2018) was an American composer and pianist, who first came to national fame upon winning the Pulitzer Prize for his orchestral works Lilacs in 1996, the first black composer to win the award.

A precocious youth, Walker entered the Oberlin Conservatory at the young of 14, followed soon by studies at both the Curtis Institute and Eastman School of Music, studying with Rudolf Serkin, Gregor Piatigorsky, and Rosario Scalera.

Known primarily for his orchestral compositions, Walker also wrote five stunning sonatas for the piano, in addition to several standalone works, including Spatials and his Prelude and Caprice. His works draw from a diverse range of influences, including everything from serialism to post-modernism to popular music.

He published an autobiography in 2009 entitled Reminiscences of an American Composer and Pianist, both his writing and music are well worth exploring.


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