Conducted by Music Director, Peter Stafford Wilson
Erin Gilliland, concertmaster
Enjoy More Recorded Performances From Our
2021 Spring String Series
Conducted by Peter Stafford Wilson
All Sound and Video Engineering by
Eric Van Wagner
We are pleased to bring you Lyric for Strings by Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer George Walker.
Written for his grandmother Malvina King, this is Walker’s most performed work.
Sometimes compared with Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings this piece stands on its own as a truly remarkable work.
Lyric for Strings is a masterfully crafted emotional journey. The piece brings a sense of serenity using alternating, intricate textures and warm, fluid harmonies and gorgeous solo passages. Originally titled Lament, this piece was later retitled Lyric for Strings. Walker once commented: “I never played a string instrument, but somehow strings have always fascinated me.” In Lyric, we hear the beginning of this life-long fascination.
We hope you enjoy the Walker, and thank you for your ongoing support of the Westerville Symphony.
About George Walker
Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer and pianist George Walker (1922-2018) began his college studies at the age of 14 when he entered the Oberlin Conservatory, the youngest student ever admitted at the time. He then went on to study piano with Rudolf Serkin at the Curtis Institute of Music and later earned his doctorate from the Eastman School of Music. Like most composers in the mid-twentieth century, Walker went to Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger. She paid him one of her best compliments: “You’re a composer… just keep going.” George Walker went on to have a long, illustrious career as a composer and pianist while teaching at Rutgers University. In a 1987 interview with broadcaster Bruce Duffie, Walker was asked about often being identified as an African-American composer as opposed to an American composer or simply a composer, and replied that there are two side to that label. “I’ve benefited from being a black composer in the sense that when there are symposiums given of music by black composers, I would get performances by orchestras that otherwise would not have done the works,” Walker said. “The other aspect, of course, is that if I were not black, I would have had a far wider dispersion of my music and more performances.”
Of his 90 published works, his Lyric for Strings is the most popular. Written in 1946 it is dedicated to his grandmother Malvina King and he called it “my grandmother’s piece.” Born into slavery, Mrs. King’s first husband was sold away and out of her life forever. She later managed to escape enslavement, live to see emancipation and to remarry. George Walker once asked her what slavery was like and she responded, “They did everything but eat us.”
For more on George Walker, his other works and extraordinary life story, please visit: