William Bolcom is an eclectic composer, influenced by Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Luciano Berio. He incorporates different musical languages such as serialism or collage, through the use of micro-intervals.
William Bolcom has broken down divisions between learnt and popular music, reviving popular songs of the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as musical standards.
William Bolcom began his composition studies at the age of eleven with George Frederick McKay and John Verrall at the University of Washington. He also took piano lessons with Berthe Poncy Jacobson. Before his arrival in France, he did further study at Mills College Oakland with Darius Milhaud and obtained a Master of Arts in 1961. Later that year he was admitted to the Paris Conservatoire and completed his training with Simone Plé Caussade (in counterpoint), Milhaud, Olivier Messiaen and Jean Rivier (in composition).
He won a Prize in composition in 1965. William Bolcom taught and composed throughout his career. From 1966 to 1968, he taught at Queens College in New York, then at the New York University School of the Arts from 1968 to 1970, and from 1973 at the University of Michigan School of Music in Ann Arbor. He was appointed director of this department from 1998 to 2008.
William Bolcom has composed for solo instruments, voice, chamber music, orchestra, cinema and theatre, as well as for the opera.
Six Landmark Dates in the Life of William Bolcom
1973 : Released Reminiscing with Sissle and Blake with the Virgin Press, co-written with Robert Kimball
1984: Edited a collection of writings by George Rochberg, The Aesthetics of Survival
1988: Bolcom received the Pulitzer Prize for 12 New Etudes for Piano
1993: received the Koussevitzky Foundation Prize for his work Lyric Concerto for Flute and Orchestra
2005: Bolcom won four Grammy Awards for William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience from Naxos
2007: was named Composer of the Year by Musical America
Six Key Works by William Bolcom
1963 : Dynamite Tonight for the Actor’s Studio Theatre
1959 : 12 Studies for Piano
1970 : Graceful Ghost, ragtime
1975 : Open House, melody cycle for tenor and chamber orchestra on poems by Theodore Roethke
1999 : Premiere of A View from the Bridge based on the Arthur Miller
2013 : Suite No. 2 for Solo Violin performed by Gil Shaham with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra conducted by Krzysztof Urbanski