ELLEN TAAFFE ZWILICH (b 1939 )
The American composer and violinist was born in Miami, studied at Florida State University and then with Ivan Galamian in New York. She played in the American Symphony Orchestra under Stokowski and later studied with Elliott Carter and Roger Sessions at the Juilliard School of Music, taking a DMA in composition in 1975, the first woman to do so. In 1983 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her Symphony No 1. From a more astringently contemporary style, her music has developed into a more generally tonal idiom, using more conventional materials, blending suggestions of neo-classicism with the neo-romantic, in a language that has proved popular with American audiences.
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s orchestral music includes four symphonies, Symphony No 1 (Three Movements for Orchestra) in 1982, Symphony No 2 (Cello Symphony)
in 1985, Symphony No 3 in 1992, and Symphony No 4, for children’s chorus, mixed chorus and orchestra, in 1999. She has written solo concertos for trombone, flute, oboe, horn, trumpet, bassoon, and violin, two piano concertos, and a double concerto for violin and cello, with a triple concerto for violin, cello and piano.
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s 70th Birthday Tribute
Read interview with Ellen Taaffe Zwilich in Chamber Music magazine’s Nov/Dec09 issue