William Bolcom’s recent work, written for the pianist Igor Levit, is streaming after its premiere earlier this year.
By Seth Colter Walls, Aug. 26, 2022
It took the composer William Bolcom over 40 years to follow his first piano concerto with a second one.
When Bolcom was putting the finishing touches on that first concerto, in 1976, he had already gained fame as part of the era’s ragtime revival. A pianist as well, he interpreted pieces by Scott Joplin and other originators, while also contributing to a new wave of writing for the form, on albums like “Heliotrope Bouquet.”
Milestones came after the concerto’s premiere. Bolcom’s prismatic “Twelve New Etudes for Piano” — which contained a crucial dollop of ragging energy — won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1988. That decade, his expansive and astute setting of William Blake’s “Songs of Innocence and of Experience” was a polyglot achievement, full of music that might take stylistic succor from reggae or Tin Pan Alley, from one minute to the next. Read the full story