Honoring George Walker

The music world lost an important voice when George Walker passed away on August 23 at the age of 96. The first African-American composer to win the Pulitzer Prize for music (for Lilacs in 1996), Mr. Walker enjoyed a long and illustrious career as concert pianist, teacher, and composer. His output was remarkably broad, ranging from small chamber ensembles to orchestral works on the largest scale, but with a predilection for the piano - his own instrument - and the violin (his son Gregory T.S. Walker is a noted violinist).

I had been looking forward to meeting Mr. Walker next March when the Montclair Orchestra performs his Lyric for Strings (1946), as it seemed fitting to honor this longtime Montclair resident with a performance of perhaps his best-known work. Sadly, I won’t have the chance to meet him in person, but I am grateful for the opportunity to pay tribute to this great man who was a pioneering force in classical music.