George Walker (b. 1922)
has a website at http://georgetwalker.com/
and is featured at AfriClassical.com
The Montclair Times
May 19, 2015
The Hall of Fame now has its 2015 round of nominees.
They include George Walker of Montclair, who is among our nation's esteemed modern classical composers.
In his education and his career, and through his intellect, artistry, and fortitude, Walker has vanquished and destroyed racial barriers. He was the first black composer to win a Pulitzer Prize in Music, awarded for his symphonic work "Lilacs for Voice and Orchestra."
Graduating from high school in Washington, D.C., at age 14, George Walker at that age performed his first public piano recital at Howard University. At 18, he graduated from Oberlin College and went on to become the first black student to graduate from the Curtis Institute of Music.
Walker was the first black student to enroll in the doctoral program in the Eastman School of Music, in Rochester, N.Y. One could make an empirical link between "Lilacs" and his studies in the Eastman School. Rochester hosts an annual Lilac Festival at its Highland Park.
In writing his Pulitzer Prize-winning work, however, Walker cited the Walt Whitman poem, "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd," an elegy to President Abraham Lincoln. Whitman, by the way, is a 2009 Hall of Fame inductee.
A prolific composer, Walker for many years was chair of the Rutgers University-Newark Music Department. Three years ago, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, which has its roots in Montclair, commissioned his Sinfonia No. 4, which premiered in the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.
Without question, George Theophilus Walker's musical presence as a classical composer and pianist and his personal breakthroughs warrant his induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.