Ellen Taaffe Zwilich
April 30, 1939 – Miami, FL, USA
“ELLEN TAAFFE ZWILICH, Francis Eppes Distinguished Professor, is widely considered to be one of America’s leading composers. She studied at the Florida State University and the Juilliard School, where her major teachers were Roger Sessions and Elliott Carter. She also studied violin with Richard Burgin and Ivan Galamian and was a member of the American Symphony Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski.
Zwilich is the recipient of numerous prizes and honors, including the 1983 Pulitzer Prize in Music (the first woman ever to receive this coveted award). She was elected to the Florida Artists Hall of Fame and the American Academy of Arts and Letters and, in 1995, was named to the first Composer’s Chair in the history of Carnegie Hall. Musical America designated her the 1999 Composer of the Year. A prolific composer in all media except opera, Zwilich has produced four symphonies and other orchestral essays, numerous concertos for a wide variety of solo instruments, and a sizable canon of chamber and recital pieces. Her works are commissioned and played regularly by the leading orchestras and ensembles throughout the world.
Many of her works have been issued on recordings, and Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (8th edition) states: “There are not many composers in the modern world who possess the lucky combination of writing music of substance and at the same time exercising an immediate appeal to mixed audiences. Zwilich offers this happy combination of purely technical excellence and a distinct power of communication.” – from Florida State University