George Walker

The first African-American to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Music, George Theophilus Walker is well-known for his winning piece, Lilacs, of 1996. The work is for soprano or tenor and orchestra and sets the text of Walt Whitman.

Photo: George Walker, http://georgetwalker.com

Print This Page

About

Born in Washington D.C., George Walker began to play piano as a child and studied in the Junior Division of Howard University. He was admitted to Oberlin College following his first public piano recital at the age of 14. He later studied at the Curtis Institute, the American Conservatory, Fontainebleu (with Nadia Boulanger), and the Eastman School of Music, where he earned his D.M.A.

Walker is an accomplished pianist as well as composer, with many performance tours at home and abroad.

He has taught at several universities in the United States, his longest appointment at Rutgers University, from 1969 to 1992. He has received such prestigious fellowships as the Fulbright, Whitney, Guggenheim, Rockefeller and MacDowell. Walker received commissions from both the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic.

While serialism is an influence on Walker’s music, he works display aspects of neo-classicism in both texture and form.

George Walker’s songs set the texts of a wide variety of American, English, and Scottish poets, including Robert Burns, Lord Byron, Countee Cullen, Emily Dickinson, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Donald J. Hayes, and A. E. Housman.

–Christie Finn

Source: Guthrie P. Ramsey Jr.’s article in the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians

Related Information

Recordings

Works by Chadabe, Walker, Eastham, etc.

(George Walker)

2017

George Walker: Chamber Music and Songs

(George Walker)

2010

Great American Chamber Music: G. Walker

(George Walker)

2009

George Walker: Composer

(George Walker)

2005

Lilacs: The Music of George Walker

(George Walker)

2000

The Negro Speaks of Rivers

(H. Leslie Adams, Margaret Bonds, Undine Smith Moore, Robert Owens, George Walker, Howard Swanson, Florence Price, Henry Clay Work and Cecil Cohen)

1998

The Music of George Walker

(George Walker)

1997

Walker: Chamber Music

(George Walker)

1995

George Walker: A Portrait

(George Walker)

1995

Books

Reminiscences of an American Composer and Pianist

By George Walker

The Black Composer Speaks

By Baker, Belt, and Hudson

A Pioneering Twentieth Century African-American Musician: The Choral Works of George T. Walker

By Jeffery Ames

Blacks in Classical Music: A Bibliographical Guide to Composers, Performers, and Ensembles (Music Reference Collection)

By John Gray

Songs

Support us and help us grow

Dear friends, Thank you for helping us build a comprehensive online archive of American song. Your gift is greatly appreciated.