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Lilacs (Walker)

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Lilacs for voice and orchestra (or Lilacs) is a musical composition by George T. Walker Jr. (1922–2018) that was awarded the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Music. The work, scored for soprano soloist and orchestra, was the unanimous choice of the Pulitzer prize jury.[1][2] Walker was the first African-American composer to be awarded the prize.[3]

Walker set the 1865 poem, "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd", by poet Walt Whitman. Whitman wrote the poem as an elegy to President Abraham Lincoln after his death on 15 April 1865. The composition was premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Faye Robinson on February 1, 1996.[4] "The unanimous choice of the Music Jury, this passionate, and very American, musical composition...has a beautiful and evocative lyrical quality using words of Walt Whitman."[1][2]


  1. ^ a b Fischer, Heinz Dietrich and Fischer, Erika J. (2001). Musical Composition Awards 1943-1999, p.xlvi. ISBN 978-3-598-30185-8.
  2. ^ a b Fischer, Heinz-Dietrich (1988). The Pulitzer Prize archive, p.278. ISBN 978-3-598-30170-4.
  3. ^ Walker, George (2009). Reminiscences of an American Composer and Pianist, p.228. ISBN 978-0-8108-6940-0.
  4. ^ Brennan, Elizabeth A. and Clarage, Elizabeth C. (1999). Who's Who of Pulitzer Prize Winners, p.451. ISBN 978-1-57356-111-2.

Further reading[edit]

  • (Apr 27, 1996). Billboard, Vol. 108, No. 17, p. 42. ISSN 0006-2510.