William Bolcom, born in Seattle, Washington in 1938, now resides in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he taught at the University of Michigan for 35 years until his retirement in 2008.
At age 11 he entered the University of Washington to study composition privately with John Verrall; later studies were with Darius Milhaud at Mills College and the Paris Conservatoire. He received a Master’s Degree from Mills College and the first Doctor of Music Degree from Stanford University. Various honors include: 1988 Pulitzer Prize in Music; 2006 National Medal of Arts; two Guggenheim fellowships; two Koussevitzky Foundation grants; six honorary doctorates; the Marc Blitzstein Award for Musical Theater; “2007 Composer of the Year” designation by Musical America; four Grammy awards(2005); and his 1992 investiture in the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Bolcom has received commissions from the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Saint Louis Symphony, the Vienna Philharmonic, the Baltimore Symphony, the National Symphony, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, The Boston “Pops” Orchestra, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Pacific Symphony, and the MET Orchestra, and from Placido Domingo, Isaac Stern, James Galway, Marilyn Horne, Joyce Castle, and Ursula Oppens, among many others. Chamber commissions include works for Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax, Emerson and Guarneri Quartets, Pro Arte Quartet, the Van Cliburn Piano Competition, the Haydn Festival Eisenstadt, and the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society.
Bolcom has composed nine symphonies, twelve string quartets, four operas: Dinner At Eight (2017), A Wedding (2004), A View From the Bridge (1999), and McTeague (1992) and three theater operas, including the popular Casino Paradise (1990), and one zarzuela: Lucrezia. His operas have been presented at the Metropolitan Opera, Washington National Opera, Portland Opera, Music Academy of the West, Indiana University, Aspen Music Festival, Opera Hagen (Germany), Landestheater Linz, and the Rome Opera (Italy). His First Symphony for Band (2009) quickly entered the serious band repertory, garnering dozens of performances.
As a highly acclaimed solo pianist and concert artist with his wife, mezzo-soprano Joan Morris, Bolcom has recorded and performed widely. His music, from ragtime to theater and from chamber to symphonic works, has gained worldwide prominence, and may be heard on the Albany, Argo, CRI, Nonesuch, New World, BMG/RCA, Deutsche Grammophone, Laurel, Hyperion, Crystal, Koch, Newport, MSR, Vox, Centaur, Phoenix, Naxos and other labels. The most recent Bolcom and Morris CD, Autumn Leaves, is a selection of some of the duo’s favorite songs and may be found on White Pine Music. William Bolcom's publisher is Edward B. Marks Music Company.