George Walker has achieved an international reputation as a composer and pianist. Born in Washington, DC, in 1922, his Town Hall recital début in New York City in 1945 and his orchestral début with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy in Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto immediately established him as one of the finest pianists of his generation. Four months later his famous Lyric for Strings, the second movement of his String Quartet No. 1 was composed.
He has received numerous awards, grants and commissions from the New York Philharmonic (Cello Concerto), the Cleveland Orchestra (Dialogus for Cello and Orchestra), the Fromm Foundation (Sinfonia No. 1), New Jersey Symphony (Pageant and Proclamation), and the Boston Symphony (Lilacs for Voice and Orchestra). The latter work received the Pulitzer Prize in Music in 1996.
His music has been recorded for Albany Records, Columbia Records, Sony, BIS, Klavier, Mercury and many other labels. The recent Albany recording of his Concerto for Violin and Orchestra that had its première in a brilliant performance by Gregory Walker, the composer’s son, and the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Neeme Järvi, has been hailed as a work destined to achieve a legendary status. The acclaimed CDs of standard piano repertoire include a recording of the Liszt Piano Sonata in B minor that Fanfare magazine has called “magnificent”.
An autobiography, George Walker: Reminiscences of an American Composer and Pianist, is published by the Scarecrow Press. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and became the first living composer/pianist to be inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame in 2000.