William Bolcom

American Composer and Pianist (b.1938, Seattle)

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