George Theophilus Walker was born in Washington, D.C. on June 27. His father emigrated from Kingston, Jamaica to the United States where he became a physician after graduating from Temple University Medical School in Philadelphia. George Walker's mother, Rosa King, supervised her son's first piano lessons that began when he was five years of age. His first teacher was Miss Mary L. Henry. Mrs. Lillian Mitchell Allen, who had earned a doctorate in music education, became his second piano teacher. Before graduating Dunbar High School,George Walker was presented in his first public recital at age 14 at Howard University's Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel. Walker was admitted to the Oberlin Conservatory that same year, where he studied with David Moyer and organ with Arthur Poister. In 1939, he became the organist for the Graduate School of Theology of Oberlin College. Graduating at 18 from Oberlin College with the highest honors in his Conservatory class, he was admitted to the Curtis Institute of Music to study piano with Rudolf Serkin, chamber music with William Primrose and Gregor Piatigorsky, and composition with Rosario Scalero, teacher of Samuel Barber. He graduated from the Curtis Institute with Artist Diplomas in piano and composition in 1945, becoming the first black graduate of the music school.
Walker's first major orchestral work was the Address for Orchestra. His Lyric for Strings is his most performed orchestral work. He has composed many works including 5 sonatas for piano, a mass, cantata, many songs, choral works, organ pieces, sonatas for cello and piano, violin and piano and viola and piano, a brass quintet and a woodwind quintet. He has published over 90 works. He has received commissions from the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, and many other ensembles. He is the recipient of six honorary doctoral degrees.
Walker is the father of two sons, violinist and composer Gregory Walker, and playwright Ian Walker. He resides in Montclair, NJ.