William Bolcom

From Wind Repertory Project
William Bolcom


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