Pulitzer Prize winning composer George Walker's first string quartet was composed in 1946 after his graduation from the Curtis Institute of Music and debut as a prodigious piano soloist with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. The first movement presents strongly contrasting themes in a clearly defined sonata form. The second Adagio movement would later become the basis of Walker's most popular work, Lyric for Strings. The third movement is a large-scaled Rondo which closes with a reflective coda.
George Walker (1922 – 2018)
Walker was the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music. He received it for his work Lilacs in 1996.
But not only that; Walker was also the first black graduate of the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia in 1945, the first black musician to play New York’s Town Hall in the same year, the first black recipient of a doctorate from the Eastman School in 1955, and the first black faculty member to receive tenure at Smith College in 1961.
Walker died on 23 August 2018, and his most famous and performed work remains his Lyric for Strings (1946), a beautifully moving work for string orchestra. He also brought the Chevalier de Saint-Georges’ legacy to our attention in 2010, honouring him in his Foils for Orchestra (Homage à Saint George).