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Walker, George

Walker, George

Born in 1922


Inducted in 2000

George Walker was born in 1922 in Washington DC. He distinguished himself both as a pianist and composer. He took his early professional training at Oberlin College from which he earned the B. Mus. degree in piano with highest honors in 1941. The first Black graduate of the Curtis Institute in 1945, Walker studied piano with Rudolph Serkin and composition with Rosario Scalero and earned artist diplomas in piano and composition. He studied with Robert Casadesus at theAmericanAcademyin Fontainbleau and earned an artist's diploma in piano in 1947. At the Eastman School of Music, he studied with Jose Echaniz and was the first Black student at Eastman to earn the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 1956. He also was awarded the artist diploma in piano in 1957. Following his Eastman studies and supported first by a Fulbright Fellowship and then a John Hay Whitney Fellowship, Walker spent two years in Paris studying composition with Nadia Boulanger. Walker's early performing triumphs included a New York debut recital at Town Hall in 1945. The same year he appeared with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. From the mid 1950s on, Walker held teaching posts in piano, composition, and music theory at several institutions. George Walker's compositional output is prodigious. His published catalog exceeds 70 works of diverse genres and includes instrumental and vocal solos, chamber music, orchestral works, and choral music. Walker also uses Black folk and jazz materials in several of his works including the Sonata for Cello and Piano, Spirituals for Orchestra, and Piano Concerto. Many honors and awards, frame Walker's importance as a distinguished American pianist and composer. He is the recipient of Guggenheim, Rockefeller, MacDowell Colony Fellowships, several National Endowment for the Arts grants, and the Koussevitsky award, to name a few.