Named 2007 Composer of the Year by Musical America, William Bolcom is a composer of cabaret songs, concertos, sonatas, operas, symphonies, and much more. He was awarded the 1988 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his Twelve New Etudes for piano.
Bolcom taught composition at the University of Michigan from 1973–2008. Named a full professor in 1983, he was Chairman of the Composition Department from 1998 to 2003 and was named the Ross Lee Finney Distinguished University Professor of Composition in the fall of 1994. He retired from teaching in 2008. Prior to 1973, he taught at the University of Washington, Queens Brooklyn Colleges of the City University of New York, and New York University’s Tisch College of the Arts. He maintains an active career as a piano soloist, accompanist (primarily with his wife, mezzosoprano Joan Morris), and composer. His recording credits are vast and he has written numerous books and articles on music and musicians. His list of awards, fellowships and grants is extensive and includes admittance to the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Medal of Arts.
Born in Seattle in 1938, Bolcom’s early musical exposure to the wind ensemble as a vehicle for the performance of serious repertoire was limited, at best. A student of Darius Milhaud in his early adulthood, Bolcom took more interest in his teacher’s songs and chamber music than his foray into the band repertoire (the well-known Suite française). Indeed, as has been the case with many composers only familiar with the orchestral repertoire, Bolcom relates that his initial attitude towards the wind ensemble was quite jaded.