William Bolcom (b. 26 May 1938, Seattle, Wash.) is an American National Medal of Arts, Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award-winning composer of chamber, operatic, vocal, choral, cabaret, ragtime and symphonic music.
At the age of 11, he began composition studies with George Fredrick McKay and John Verall at the University of Washington, continuing piano lessons with Madame Berthe Poncy Jacobson. He later studied with Darius Milhaud at Mills College while working on his Master of Arts degree, with Leland Smith at Stanford University while working on his D.M.A., and with Olivier Messiaen and Milhaud at the Paris Conservatoire, where he received the 2éme Prix de Composition.
Bolcom’s early compositions employed the somewhat severe 12-tone, or serial technique, but in the 1960s he began to reach out and use a wider variety of musical styles. His main goal as a composer has been to erase the boundaries between popular and classical music.
Bolcom has taught composition at the University of Michigan since 1973. He has been a full professor since 1983 and was Chairman of the Composition Department from 1998 to 2003. In the fall of 1994 the University of Michigan named him the Ross Lee Finney Distinguished University Professor of Composition. He retired in 2008.
Bolcom’s many compositions include nine symphonies, eleven string quartets, four violin sonatas, three operas three musical theater works incidental music for stage play, two film scores, several unusual concertos, and a large catalog of chamber and vocal works. Among his numerous awards and prizes are The Pulitzer Prize for Music, investiture in the American Academy of Arts and Letters, four Grammys in 2006 for his Songs Of Innocence and Experience (Best Classical Album Best Choral Performance Best Classical contemporary Composition and Best Producer of the Year Classical) among others.
Works for Winds
- Broadside: Ceremonial for Winds
- Circus Overture (tr. Bolcom and Dooley) (2015)
- Concert Suite for Solo E-flat Alto Saxophone and Band (1998)
- Concerto for Clarinet and Band (1990/2015)
- Concerto for Soprano Saxophone and Band (2015)
- Concerto Grosso for Saxophone Quartet (2000)
- Fanfare for a New President
- First Symphony for Band (2008)
- Fifth Symphony (1999)
- Five Cabaret Songs (arr. Frenkel) (2009/2014)
- Graceful Ghost Rag (1970/2011)
- Liberty Enlightening the World (1985)
- Machine (tr. Lavender) (1990/1999)
- Orphée-Sérénade (1984)
- Serenade for English Horn and Chamber Winds (2023)
- Song (for Band) (2001)
- Trombone Concerto (2017)
- Byrd, Josh. "Circus Overture." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 11, Compiled and edited by Richard Miles, 876-888. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2018.
- Moorhouse, Linda R. "Graceful Ghost Rag." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 9, edit. & comp. by Richard Miles, 536-548. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2013.
- Salzman, Timothy, editor. (2012) A Composer's Insight. Volume 5. Galesville, Md.: Meredith Music Publications.
- William Bolcom website
- William Bolcom, Prized Composers, University of Washington