Works performed by Earplay:


George Theophilus Walker (1922-2018) was a trailblazing American composer, pianist, and organist. His mother supervised his first piano lessons when he was five years old. While attending high school, George Walker was also a student at Howard University, where he performed his first public piano recital at age 14. He was admitted to the Oberlin Conservatory that same year and graduated at 18 with the highest honors in his Conservatory class. Then he attended the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied piano with Rudolf Serkin, chamber music with William Primrose and Gregor Piatigorsky, and composition with Rosario Scalero, graduating in 1945.

Over the course of the next five decades, Walker balanced a career as a concert pianist, teacher, and composer. He was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship and a John Hay Whitney Fellowship in 1957 and spent the next two years in Paris studying composition with Nadia Boulanger. His academic career included faculty appointments to the Dalcroze School of Music, the New School for Social Research, Smith College, the University of Colorado Boulder, Rutgers University, the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Delaware.

Walker's body of work includes over 90 works for orchestra, chamber orchestra, piano, strings, voice, organ, clarinet, guitar, brass, woodwinds, and chorus. Unwilling to conform to a specific style as a composer, he crafted music influenced by a wide variety of musical styles due to his exposure to classical music, jazz, folk songs, and church hymns.

In 1996, Walker became the first black composer to receive the Pulitzer Prize In Music (for Lilacs for voice and orchestra). He received numerous awards in subsequent years. His autobiography, Reminiscences of an American Composer and Pianist, was published in 2009.