Friday, June 27, 2014

Composer & Pianist George Walker was born June 27, 1922; Albany Records pairs his 'Sonata No. 2 for Violin & Piano' with Beethoven’s ‘Emperor Concerto’

George Walker: Composer and Performer
George Walker: Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano
Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Albany Records Troy 1478 (2014)

The composer and pianist George Walker was born in 
Washington, D.C. June 27, 1922, is featured at 
and has a website at 
He made history in 1996 as the first African American Pulitzer Prize Winner in Music.

George Walker has recorded prolifically. The record pictured above is a historic release.  The Beethoven performance was given live in 1967 by the Smith-Amherst Orchestra, with Edwin London conducting, the liner notes tell us.  The notes continue: "The Smith-Amherst Orchestra consisted almost entirely of students from these two colleges."  
The liner notes say: "The Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano, commissioned by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, was completed in 1979." We are told of the third movement: "A fragment of the spiritual, 'Let Us Break Bread Together,' is introduced near the end of the movement.  Its normally contemplative quality is transformed into an anguished cry."  Beethoven's 'Emperor Concerto' was the only classical recording this reviewer owned as a college student, and was played hundreds of times.  That personal history makes George Walker's passionate and vivid rendition of the work all the more satisfying. 

George Walker is featured both as composer and performer on this recording of his violin sonata and Beethoven's piano concerto.
Albany Records continues its series of recordings devoted to the artistry of esteemed composer and pianist George Walker. This recording includes Walker performing Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto in a thrilling live performance from 1967. Coupled with the Beethoven is Walker’s Violin Sonata performed by the composer and his son, Gregory for this recording. Gregory Walker, a professor at the University of Colorado is artistic director of the Colorado NeXt Music Fest and a champion of contemporary music.
George Walker, composerSonata for Violin and Piano No. 2Gregory Walker, violin; George Walker, piano
Ludwig van Beethoven, composer, Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
George Walker, piano; Smith-Amherst Orchestra; Edwin London, conductor

Comment by email:
Happy and Best Birthday to composer/musician/educator George Walker.  [John Malveaux]

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