William Bolcom

William Bolcom is a composer of cabaret songs, concertos, sonatas, operas, symphonies, and much more. Named 2007 Composer of the Year by Musical America, and honored with multiple Grammy Awards for his ground-breaking setting of Blake's Songs of Innocence and of Experience, Bolcom was awarded the 1988 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his 12 New Etudes for Piano.

Photo: www.bolcomandmorris.com

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About

The eclecticism at the heart of American music takes a vital new twist in the work of contemporary composer William Bolcom, for whom non-specialization has become a raison d’être. A composer of songs, operas, and instrumental works; a pianist of distinction who frequently accompanies his wife, mezzo-soprano Joan Morris, in recital; an artist who has worked in a variety of idioms from classical to cabaret, Bolcom is a fresh voice on the American music scene.

Born in Seattle on May 26, 1938, Bolcom studied with Darius Milhaud at Mills College, with Leland Smith at Stanford University, and with both Milhaud and Olivier Messiaen in Paris. He settled in New York in the 1960’s, and immersed himself for a time in the ragtime of Scott Joplin and Eubie Blake, as well as pursuing a fascination for another Blake: the mystical English Romantic poet, William. This latter interest culminated in 1984 with Bolcom’s powerful cycle Songs of Innocence and of Experience, in which he set 46 Blake poems for solo voice and piano, orchestra, and chorus.

Bolcom’s music demonstrates his flair for the dramatic, his fondness for experimentation, and his knack for combining pre-existing styles with his own dissonant textures and jaunty vernacular idiom. His catalogue encompasses the 1988 Pulitzer Prize-winning 12 New Etudes for piano, ten string quartets, and five piano concerti. For the stage he has composed Dynamite Tonight (1963), Greatshot (1969), Theatre of the Absurd (1970), and A View from the Bridge (1998), plus the highly acclaimed McTeague, an opera based on Frank Norris’ novel, which had its premiere at Chicago’s Lyric Opera in 1992. Bolcom has also constructed many a delightful cabaret evening of his songs, among them the very winning Amor. He taught at the University of Michigan from 1973 to 1988.

–Thomas Hampson and Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold, PBS I Hear America Singing

 

Related Information

Videos

Recordings

Joyce & Tony: Live at Wigmore Hall

(William Bolcom, Celius Dougherty and Stephen Foster)

2015

Serious Fun!

(David N. Baker and William Bolcom)

2005

American Classics: William Bolcom: Songs

(William Bolcom)

2004

American Classics: Songs of Innocence and Experience

(William Bolcom)

2004

Cabaret Songs (Complete)

(William Bolcom)

2003

Voices of Our Time - Dawn Upshaw

(William Bolcom, Ruth Crawford Seeger, John Harbison, George Crumb and Charles Ives)

2000

Blue - Complete Cabaret Songs

(William Bolcom)

2001

A View From the Bridge

(William Bolcom)

1999

Moonlight Bay

(William Bolcom, Oley Speaks, George M. Cohan, Paul Dresser, Victor Herbert and Carrie Jacobs-Bond)

1999

Open House

(Robert Beaser and William Bolcom)

1998

American Anthem: From Ragtime to Art Song

(Samuel Barber, Lee Hoiby, Charles Ives, John Musto, John Jacob Niles, Ned Rorem, Traditional, Aaron Copland and William Bolcom)

1998

Sure on This Shining Night

(Samuel Barber, George Whitefield Chadwick, Charles Ives, John Corigliano, Aaron Copland, William Bolcom, Ned Rorem, Richard Hageman, Charles Griffes, Victor Herbert, Horatio Parker, John Musto, Amy Marcy Beach, Theodore Chanler and Virgil Thomson)

1997

American Songbook - The American Music Collection, Vol. 3

(Amy Marcy Beach, Leonard Bernstein, Marc Blitzstein, William Bolcom, Aaron Copland, Charles Ives, Betty Jackson King, Libby Larsen and Kurt Weill)

1996

American Song Recital

(Leonard Bernstein, William Bolcom, Paul Bowles, John Corigliano, John Woods Duke, Richard Hundley, Lori Laitman, John Musto and Richard Pearson Thomas)

1992

Songs of America

(William Bolcom, Charles Wakefield Cadman, Elliott Carter, Aaron Copland, Ruth Crawford Seeger, Stephen Foster, Charles Ives, Carrie Jacobs-Bond, Sergius Kagen, Theodore Roethke, Ned Rorem, Carl Sandburg, William Jay Smith and Gertrude Stein)

1988

Blah Blah Blah & Other Trifles

(David N. Baker, Leonard Bernstein and William Bolcom)

1988

Heartbeats: The AIDS Quilt Songbook

(William Bolcom, Chris DeBlasio, John Harbison, Libby Larsen, John Musto and Donald Wheelock)

1980

Songs

A Walt Whitman Triptych

Song Collection

William Bolcom

Walt Whitman

Africa

William Bolcom

Arnold Weinstein

Song Collection: Old Addresses

Ailey, Baldwin, Floyd, Killens, and Mayfield

William Bolcom

Maya Angelou

Song Collection: Let Evening Come

Amor

William Bolcom

Arnold Weinstein

Song Collection: Cabaret Songs, Vol. 1

Angels are the Highest Form of Virtue

William Bolcom

Arnold Weinstein

Song Collection: Cabaret Songs, Vol. 1

At the Last Lousy Moments of Love

William Bolcom

Arnold Weinstein

Song Collection: Cabaret Songs, Vol. 1

Ballad of the Landlord

William Bolcom

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Old Addresses

Blue

William Bolcom

Arnold Weinstein

Song Collection: Cabaret Songs, Vol. 1

Briefly It Enters

Song Collection

William Bolcom

Jane Kenyon

Briefly It Enters, and Briefly Speaks

William Bolcom

Jane Kenyon

Song Collection: Briefly It Enters

Cabaret Songs, Vol. 1

Song Collection

William Bolcom

Arnold Weinstein

Cabaret Songs, Vol. 2

Song Collection

William Bolcom

Arnold Weinstein

Cabaret Songs, Vol. 3

Song Collection

William Bolcom

Arnold Weinstein

Cabaret Songs, Vol. 4

Song Collection

William Bolcom

Arnold Weinstein

Can't Sleep

William Bolcom

Arnold Weinstein

Song Collection: Cabaret Songs, Vol. 1

Come Up From the Fields, Father

William Bolcom

Walt Whitman

Song Collection: A Walt Whitman Triptych

February: Thinking of Flowers

William Bolcom

Jane Kenyon

Song Collection: Briefly It Enters

First Meditation

William Bolcom

Theodore Roethke

Song Collection: Open House

Fur (Murray the Furrier)

William Bolcom

Arnold Weinstein

Song Collection: Cabaret Songs, Vol. 1

George

William Bolcom

Arnold Weinstein

Song Collection: Cabaret Songs, Vol. 1

Gettysburg: July 1, 1863

William Bolcom

Jane Kenyon

Give Way, Ye Gates

William Bolcom

Theodore Roethke

Song Collection: Open House

He Tipped the Waiter

William Bolcom

Arnold Weinstein

Song Collection: Cabaret Songs, Vol. 1

Histrion

William Bolcom

Ezra Pound

Song Collection: Old Addresses

Horse Song

William Bolcom

Donald Hall

Song Collection: Three Donald Hall Songs

How To Swing Those Obbligatos Around

William Bolcom

Alice Fulton

Song Collection: I Will Breathe a Mountain

I Knew a Woman

William Bolcom

Theodore Roethke

Song Collection: Open House

I Saw Eternity

William Bolcom

Louise Bogan

Song Collection: I Will Breathe a Mountain

Just Once

William Bolcom

Anne Sexton

Song Collection: I Will Breathe a Mountain

Lady Death

William Bolcom

A.D. Winans

Song Collection: Old Addresses

Lady Luck

William Bolcom

Arnold Weinstein

Song Collection: Cabaret Songs, Vol. 1

Let Evening Come

Song Collection

William Bolcom

Maya Angelou

Emily Dickinson

Jane Kenyon

I Will Breathe a Mountain

Song Collection

William Bolcom

Elizabeth Bishop

Louise Bogan

Gwendolyn Brooks

Edna St. Vincent Millay

H. D.

Emily Dickinson

Alice Fulton

Denise Levertov

Marianne Moore

Anne Sexton

May Swenson

Laura Sonnets

Song Collection

William Bolcom

Let Evening Come

William Bolcom

Jane Kenyon

Song Collection: Let Evening Come

Love in the Thirties

William Bolcom

Arnold Weinstein

Song Collection: Cabaret Songs, Vol. 1

Man Eating

William Bolcom

Jane Kenyon

Song Collection: Briefly It Enters

Minicabs

Song Collection

William Bolcom

Arnold Weinstein

Miracle Song

William Bolcom

Arnold Weinstein

Song Collection: Cabaret Songs, Vol. 1

Never More Will The Wind

William Bolcom

H. D.

Song Collection: I Will Breathe a Mountain

Night Practice

William Bolcom

May Swenson

Song Collection: I Will Breathe a Mountain

O Cheese

William Bolcom

Donald Hall

Song Collection: Three Donald Hall Songs

O To Be a Dragon

William Bolcom

Marianne Moore

Song Collection: I Will Breathe a Mountain

Oh Close the Curtain

William Bolcom

Arnold Weinstein

Song Collection: Cabaret Songs, Vol. 1

Old Addresses

Song Collection

William Bolcom

Mark Doty

Langston Hughes

Kenneth Koch

Ezra Pound

A.D. Winans

Arnold Weinstein

Open House

Song Collection

William Bolcom

Theodore Roethke

Open House

William Bolcom

Theodore Roethke

Song Collection: Open House

Otherwise

William Bolcom

Jane Kenyon

Song Collection: Briefly It Enters

Over the Piano

William Bolcom

Arnold Weinstein

Song Collection: Cabaret Songs, Vol. 1

Peonies at Dusk

William Bolcom

Jane Kenyon

Song Collection: Briefly It Enters

Pity Me Not Because the Light of Day

William Bolcom

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Song Collection: I Will Breathe a Mountain

Places To Live

William Bolcom

Arnold Weinstein

Song Collection: Cabaret Songs, Vol. 1

Poet Pal of Mine

William Bolcom

Arnold Weinstein

Song Collection: Cabaret Songs, Vol. 1

Radical Sally

William Bolcom

Arnold Weinstein

Song Collection: Cabaret Songs, Vol. 1

Satisfaction

William Bolcom

Arnold Weinstein

Song Collection: Cabaret Songs, Vol. 1

Scented Herbage of My Breast

William Bolcom

Walt Whitman

Song Collection: A Walt Whitman Triptych

Song of Black Max (as told by the de Kooning boys)

William Bolcom

Arnold Weinstein

Song Collection: Cabaret Songs, Vol. 1

Surprise!

William Bolcom

Arnold Weinstein

Song Collection: Cabaret Songs, Vol. 1

'Tis Not That Dying Hurts Us So

William Bolcom

Emily Dickinson

Song Collection: Let Evening Come

The Actor

William Bolcom

Arnold Weinstein

Song Collection: Cabaret Songs, Vol. 1

The Bustle in a House

William Bolcom

Emily Dickinson

Song Collection: I Will Breathe a Mountain

The Clearing

William Bolcom

Jane Kenyon

Song Collection: Briefly It Enters

The Crazy Woman

William Bolcom

Gwendolyn Brooks

Song Collection: I Will Breathe a Mountain

The Embrace

William Bolcom

Mark Doty

Song Collection: Old Addresses

The Fish

William Bolcom

Elizabeth Bishop

Song Collection: I Will Breathe a Mountain

The Junction, On a Warm Afternoon

William Bolcom

Howard Nemerov

The Right Thing

William Bolcom

Theodore Roethke

Song Collection: Open House

The Sage

William Bolcom

Denise Levertov

Song Collection: I Will Breathe a Mountain

The Serpent

William Bolcom

Theodore Roethke

Song Collection: Open House

The Sick Wife

William Bolcom

Jane Kenyon

Song Collection: Briefly It Enters

The Total Stranger in the Garden

William Bolcom

Arnold Weinstein

Song Collection: Cabaret Songs, Vol. 1

Thius, King of Orf

William Bolcom

Arnold Weinstein

Song Collection: Cabaret Songs, Vol. 1

Three Donald Hall Songs

Song Collection

William Bolcom

Donald Hall

To My Old Addresses

William Bolcom

Kenneth Koch

Song Collection: Old Addresses

Toothbrush Time

William Bolcom

Arnold Weinstein

Song Collection: Cabaret Songs, Vol. 1

Twilight: After Haying

William Bolcom

Jane Kenyon

Song Collection: Briefly It Enters

Waitin

William Bolcom

Arnold Weinstein

Song Collection: Cabaret Songs, Vol. 1

The Waking

William Bolcom

Theodore Roethke

Song Collection: Open House

Wheel of the Oxcart

William Bolcom

Donald Hall

Song Collection: Three Donald Hall Songs

Who

William Bolcom

Jane Kenyon

Song Collection: Briefly It Enters

Years of the Modern

William Bolcom

Walt Whitman

Song Collection: A Walt Whitman Triptych

Audio

William Bolcom

Track:

    Sheet Music

    I Will Breathe a Mountain

    Composer(s): William Bolcom

    Song(s): 1. Pity Me Not Because the Light of Day
    2. How To Swing Those Obbligatos Around
    3. The Crazy Woman
    4. Just Once Text: Anne Sexton
    5. Never More Will The Wind
    6. The Sage Text: Denise Levertov
    7. O To Be a Dragon
    8. The Bustle in a House
    9. I Saw Eternity
    10. Night Practice
    11. The Fish

    Buy via Sheet Music Plus

    Laura Sonnets

    Composer(s): William Bolcom

    Song(s): I. Sonetto 5
    II. Sonetto 90
    III. Sonetto 267
    IV. Sonetto 286
    V. Sonetto 292

    Buy via Sheet Music Plus

    Let Evening Come

    Composer(s): William Bolcom

    Song(s): 1. Ailey, Baldwin, Floyd, Killens, and Mayfield
    2. 'Tis Not That Dying Hurts Us So
    3. Let Evening Come

    Buy via Sheet Music Plus

    Minicabs

    Composer(s): William Bolcom

    Buy via Sheet Music Plus

    Old Addresses

    Composer(s): William Bolcom

    Song(s): 1. Lady Death
    2. Histrion
    3. Ballad of the Landlord
    4. The Embrace
    5. Africa
    6. To My Old Addresses

    Buy via Sheet Music Plus

    Open House

    Composer(s): William Bolcom

    Song(s): 1. Open House
    2. Give Way, Ye Gates
    3. The Waking
    4. The Serpent
    5. I Knew a Woman
    6. First Meditation
    7. The Right Thing

    Buy via Sheet Music Plus

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