George Walker. Photo: Frank Schramm

George Walker is an American composer, born in 1922. He lives in Montclair, New Jersey. His best-known work is Lyric for Strings, for chamber orchestra. It was drawn from his String Quartet No. 1.

Here is a recording of the original version. And here is the orchestral version.

You may be reminded that Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings was drawn from his string quartet (the only one he ever wrote, unless you count Dover Beach, for string quartet and baritone).

At the Curtis Institute, Walker studied composition with Rosario Scalero, who had been Barber’s teacher as well. Walker dedicated his Lyric for Strings to his grandmother, Malvina King. He still calls it “my grandmother’s piece.”

She had been a slave. And she lived to a great old age. Her grandson knew her very well. When you sit with him in his living room, as I did, you somehow feel that you are close to history—ugly history that it is.

For National Review, I did a two-part series on George Walker: here and here. He has lived a remarkable life, and has remarkable things to say. I think you will enjoy getting to know him, if you don’t already.

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