William Bolcom

WILLIAM BOLCOM

Year Commissioned: 1991

Background Information

National Medal of Arts, Pulitzer Prize, and Grammy Award-winner William Bolcom is an American composer of chamber, operatic, vocal, choral, cabaret, ragtime, and symphonic music.

Born in Seattle, Washington, in May, 1939, exhibited musical talent while still very young. He began composition studies at the age of 11 with George Frederick McKay and John Verall at the University of Washington while continuing piano lessons with Madame Berthe Poncy Jacobson. He later studied with Darius Milhaud at Mills College while working on his Master of Arts degree, with Leland Smith at Stanford University while working on his D.M.A., and with Olivier Messiaen and Milhaud at the Paris Conservatoire, where he received the 2éme Prix de Composition.

He joined the faculty of the University of Michigan's School of Music in 1973, was named the Ross Lee Finney Distinguished University Professor of Composition in 1994, and retired in 2008 after 35 years. Bolcom won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1988 for 12 New Etudes for Piano, and his setting of William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience on the Naxos label won four Grammy Awards in 2005.

As a pianist, Bolcom has performed and recorded his own work frequently in collaboration with his wife and musical partner, mezzo-soprano Joan Morris.

His music spans the arc from string sonaas and quartets, symphonies, operas, stage and film scores and an extensive catalog of chamber and vocal works.

“What will survive is what nourishes us emotionally and spiritually, probably to the detriment of what is merely interesting. Art is what is irresistible, the wrtier William Saroyan once said to me, and I have yet to find a better definition of it.”

His work “Recuerdos” was commissioned for the 3rd International Two Piano Competition.

 

"Recuerdos"
William Bolcom

 

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