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C0 note (16,35 Hz) — vibrating on liquid surface

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Walker, George - M - United States of America 




Composer and pianist George Theophilus Walker was born in Washington, D.C. on June 27, 1922 of West Indian-American parentage. Before graduating from Dunbar High School at age 14, George Walker was presented in his first public recital at age 14 at Howard University's Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel.  Graduating at 18 from Oberlin College with the highest honors in his Conservatory class, he was admitted to the Curtis Institute of Music to study piano with Rudolf Serkin, chamber music with William Primrose and Gregor Piatigorsky, and composition with Rosario Scalero, teacher of Samuel Barber.  He graduated from the Curtis Institute with Artist Diplomas in piano and composition in 1945, becoming the first black graduate of this renowned music school. 

Walker was presented in a debut recital in Town Hall, New York by Mr. and Mrs. Efrem Zimbalist, the first black instrumentalist to perform in that hall.  Two weeks later, as the winner of the Philadelphia Youth Auditions, he played the 3rd Piano Concerto of Rachmaninoff with the Philadelphia Orchestra with Eugene Ormandy; he was the first black instrumentalist to appear with this orchestra.  In 1946, Walker composed his String Quartet no. 1; a string orchestra arrangement of the second movement of this work, entitled Lyric for Strings, is one of the most frequently performed orchestral works by a living American composer. In 1954, he made an unprecedented tour of seven European countries, playing in Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and England. Upon returning to the United States, he taught at Dillard University in New Orleans for one year before entering the Doctor of Musical Arts Degree Program at the Eastman School of Music in 1955.  In 1956, he became the first black recipient of a doctoral degree from that institution as well as an Artist Diploma in Piano.  George Walker's distinguished career as a teacher included faculty appointments to the Dalcroze School of Music, The New School for Social Research, where he introduced a course in Aesthetics, Smith College (1961-68) (where he became the first black tenured faculty member), the University of Colorado (1968-69 as Visiting Professor), Rutgers University (1969-92, where he was Chairman of the Music Department), Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University (1975-78) and the University of Delaware (1975-76, where he was the recipient of the first Minority Chair established by the University). 

George Walker has published over 90 works for orchestra, chamber orchestra, piano, strings, voice, organ, clarinet, guitar, brass, woodwinds, and chorus.   His works have been performed by virtually every major orchestra in the United States and by many in England and other countries. He has received important commissions from many ensembles including the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Boston Symphony, the Eastman School of Music, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The Boys Choir of Harlem, and the Network for New Music. His compositions have been recorded for CBS, Mastersound, Desto, CRI, Serenus, Da Camera Magna, BIS, Orion, Mercury, GM; since 1994, a total of seventeen CDs devoted exclusively to his compositions or his performances of standard piano repertoire have been issued by Albany Records. Walker’s numerous accolades include two Guggenheim Fellowships, two Rockefeller Fellowships, a Fromm Foundation commission, two Koussevitsky Awards, and an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award.  In 1996, George Walker became the first black composer to receive the Pulitzer Prize in Music for his work, Lilacs for Voice and Orchestra, premiered by the Boston Symphony under the direction of Seiji Ozawa. In July 2009, Scarecrow Press published his autobiography, Reminiscences of an American Composer and Pianist. Still actively composing music at the age of 93, Walker was recently profiled in the Washington Post and in The Guardian.





Works in ISCM catalogue



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