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William Bolcom

About William Bolcom

The noted American composer and pianist William Bolcom began his collegiate studies at the early age of 11, at the University of Washington, studying composition and piano. He went on to study at Mills College, Stanford, and the Paris Conservatoire with Darius Milhaud and Olivier Messiaen, among others. Bolcom taught composition at the University of Michigan from 1973 until his retirement in 2008 and was named Ross Lee Finney Distinguished University Professor of Composition in 1994.

Bolcom’s compositional output ranges from symphonies and concertos to operas and cabaret songs. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1988 for 12 New Etudes for Piano and three Grammy awards in 2006 for his setting of William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience. Bolcom is also the recipient of the National Medal of Arts and the Detroit Music Award and was named the 2007 Composer of the Year by Musical America.

In addition to his work as a composer, William Bolcom is renowned for his work with his wife, mezzo-soprano Joan Morris, which focuses on cabaret and show tunes from the early 20th century. The duo’s Nonesuch catalog includes the albums Blue Skies: Songs of Irving Berlin, After the Ball, and Gershwin: Piano Music and Songs. Also included among Bolcom’s Nonesuch recordings are his performance of piano music by his teacher Darius Milhaud and a collection of early 20th century cornet music.

Latest Release

  • Blue Skies: Songs of Irving Berlin

    Blue Skies: Songs of Irving Berlin

    More than any other songwriter, Irving Berlin defined the American pop song, incorporating European harmonies, klezmer rhythms, and meticulously worded lyrics into his music. William Bolcom and Joan Morris, the "dream team of American popular song" (Chicago Tribune) perform highlights from his catalog of more than 1,500 songs.