William Bolcom

Biography

Born: May 26, 1938; Seattle, WA  
William Bolcom is one of the most versatile contemporary American composers, writing chamber music, piano works, song cycles, concertos, music theatre, opera, and symphonies, displaying a mastery of many different compositional styles. Although not given to radical experimentation, he consciously avoids blindly following European styles, whether old or contemporary. He describes Charles Ives as his greatest influence, and in his operas and stage Read more works he chooses to set pieces about American characters by American authors, and includes idioms such as ragtime and jazz in his works. In addition to this wide stylistic diversity, his works often display a trenchant sense of humor, on display in works such as the song Lime Jello Marshmallow Cottage Cheese Surprise. He is also a noted performer, and in 1973 his recording of the complete piano music of Gershwin was named Stereo Review's Record of the Year. He and his wife mezzo-soprano Joan Morris have made over 20 recordings of American popular song.

Bolcom began studying composition with John Verrall at the age of 11. After receiving his bachelor's degree from the University of Washington, he studied with Darius Milhaud at Mills College. In 1960, Milhaud took Bolcom to Paris, where he also worked with Olivier Messiaen. In 1961 Bolcom went on to study with Leland Smith at Stanford. After earning his doctorate in composition there in 1964, he won the Marc Blitzstein Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for Dynamite Tonite, a piece that shows the influence of Milhaud and the Parisian cabarets. (His Casino Paradise, written in 1990, while still cabaret-style, shows more of an individual voice.) He returned to the Paris Conservatoire in 1964, and graduated in 1965, winning the second prize in that year's composition competition, as well as the first of two Guggenheim Fellowships. Bolcom won two Koussevitzky Foundation Awards, in 1976 and 1993, for the First Piano Quartet, and the Lyric Concerto for flute and orchestra, respectively. He has been commissioned by many of America's greatest musical institutions, including the orchestras of Philadelphia, St. Louis, Seattle, New York, Baltimore, Boston, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. His commissions include a number of works for some of the greatest singers of our time, including Placido Domingo, Marilyn Horne, and Catherine Malfitano.

In 1988, he won the Pulitzer Prize in music for his 12 New Etudes for Piano. His most ambitious composition, which occupied him for 25 years, is a complete setting of William Blake's Songs of Innocence and of Experience, for soloists, chorus, and orchestra, which received its premiere at the Stuttgart Opera in 1984. A recording of the work, featuring the orchestras and choruses of the University of Michigan conducted by Leonard Slatkin, won three Grammy Awards in 2006, for Best Choral Performance, Best Classical Contemporary Composition, and Best Classical Album. In 2007, Musical America named Bolcom composer of the year.

Bolcom has composed three operas, commissioned by the Lyric Opera of Chicago, all of which he wrote with librettist and long-time collaborator, Arnold Weinstein. McTeague (1992), conducted by Dennis Russell Davies, starred Ben Heppner and Catherine Malfitano. Weinstein collaborated with playwright Arthur Miller on the libretto for A View from the Bridge (1999), which was subsequently presented by the Metropolitan Opera in 2002. His third opera, A Wedding, is based on the film of the same name by Robert Altman, who worked on the libretto with Weinstein. It received its premiere in Chicago in 2004.

Since 1973, Bolcom has taught at the University of Michigan. He became a full professor there in 1983, and in 1994 he was named the Ross Lee Finney Distinguished University Professor of Music. Bolcom also holds honorary doctorates from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Albion College. Read less
Cabaret Songs - Bolcom, Weill, Holl¿nder & Britten / Ernman, Lundin
Release Date: 11/27/2001   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 1154   Number of Discs: 1
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There are 130 William Bolcom recordings available.

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Works

William Bolcom


MOST POPULAR WORKS
WORKS
I (...the ghost mazurka)
II (...aimai-je un rêve?)
III (...forgotten prayers)
IV (...cycle de l'univers)
V (...la belle rouquine)
VI (...Pegasus)
VII (...this endernight)
VIII (...recess in hell)
IX (...Circus Galop)
I. Allegro con spirito - Very rhythmic
II. Molto adagio espressivo
III. Like a barcarolle - Tempo giusto
IV. Gingando (Brazilian Tango Tempo), "Tombeau d'Ernesto Nazareth"
I. In Modo Classico
II. In Memory of a Distant Relative
III. Scherzino and Cadenza
IV. Rondo
I. The Phantom-Sweetheart
II. The Centaurs in Flight
III. The Dwarf's Serenade: Variations
IV. The Abandoned Ferryboat
I. War in Heaven
II. The Caves of Orcus
No. 1. The Graceful Ghost
No. 2. The Poltergeist
No. 3. Dream Shadows
Pity Me Not Because the Light of Day
How to swing those Obbligatos around
The Crazy Woman
Just Once
Never more will the Wind
The Sage
O to be a Dragon
The Bustle in a House
I saw Eternity
Night Practice
The Fish
No. 1. Daedalus and Icarus
No. 2. Leonardo
No. 3. Wilbur and Orville
II. White Night: Slow; Faster, nervous
III. Arabesque: Molto moderato
IV. Jota: Vivo, risoluto
I. Barcarolle / Ketjak
II. Largo fantastico
III. Intermezzo
IV. Finale
I. Allegro con fuoco
II. Adagio espressivo
III. Scherzo nero; with abandon
IV. Vivo, con passione
I. Choro - Homage to Nazareth
II. Paseo - a la memoire de Louis-Moreau Gottschalk
III. Valse Venezolano - a la memoire de Ramon Delgado Palacios
I. Allegro inquieto - Non troppo presto
II. Adagio semplice
III. Allegro assai - Steady tempo, but uneasy
I. Legend
II. Nocturne
III. Quasi-Variations: Scenes From a Young Life
I. Summer Dreams
II. Brutal, fast
III. Adagio
IV. In Memory of Joe Venuti
I. A piacere, drammatico - Allegro con fuoco
II. Andante
III. Like a Shiver - attacca -
IV. Moderato, risoluto, all'arabesca
I. Allegro brillante
II. White Night
III. Arabesque
IV. Jota
I. Moderato
II. Andante
III. Allegro
River Song
Messing About in Boats
Rat's Song
Part 1: Introduction
Part 1: The Ecchoing Green
Part 1: The Lamb
Part 1: The Shepherd
Part 1: Infant Joy
Part 1: The Little Black Boy
Part 2: Laughing Song
Part 2: Spring
Part 2: A Cradle Song
Part 2: Nurse's Song
Part 2: Holy Thursday
Part 2: The Blossom
Part 2: Interlude
Part 2: The Chimney Sweeper
Part 2: The Divine Image
Part 3: Nocturne
Part 3: Night
Part 3: A Dream
Part 3: On Another's Sorrow
Part 3: The Little Boy Lost
Part 3: The Little Boy Found
Part 3: Coda
This is a face
Since I have met you
The rabbit
I am not free
For me there is no song
From wandering in the forest
Beware
I wouldn't die without love
I remember
For everything turned false
I have climbed
I. Prelude
II. Arioso 1
III. Badinerie
IV. Arioso 2
V. Alla sarabanda
I. Bold, passionate
II. Scherzando: Fast
III. Valse obsedee
IV. Not too slow
V. Presto possibile
I. Old Adam
II. The Eternal Feminine
III. The Serpent's Kiss
IV. Through Eden's Gates
Costa del Nowhere
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