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George Walker

@ National Portrait Gallery


Born Washington, D.C.In 1996, George Walker became the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music with his composition Lilacs for Voice and Orchestra. This was one of many firsts for the virtuoso pianist and classical composer, who challenged expectations and charted his own course in a career spanning eight decades. A superior student, he was the first black graduate of Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music and the first black instrumentalist to perform with the Philadelphia Orchestra (1945). Despite this promising start, Walker faced racial discrimination that severely limited his performance opportunities as a pianist. He responded by pursuing dual careers as a teacher and composer, producing more than ninety works that have placed him at the forefront of contemporary classical music. In these photographs, Walker appears framed by his home piano and captured in the act of scoring a composition—something he always did entirely by hand.Nacido en Washington, D.C.En 1996, George Walker se convirtió en el primer afroamericano que ganó el premio Pulitzer de música con su composición Lilacs, para voz y orquesta. Este fue uno de los numerosos hitos de este magistral pianista y compositor clásico que desafió los prejuicios para trazar su propio rumbo en una carrera de ocho décadas. Estudiante destacado,Walker fue el primer graduado afroamericano del Instituto de Música Curtis de Filadelfia, y el primer instrumentista negro que se presentó con la Orquesta de Filadelfia (1945). A pesar de este comienzo prometedor, a discriminación raciallimitó en extremo sus oportunidades como pianista. Decidió entonces...
Inkjet Print
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Frank Schramm
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National Portrait Gallery

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Smithsonian Institution