Bolcom, William

Bolcom, William (William Elden Bolcom), 1938–, American composer, b. Seattle, Wash. He attended the Univ. of Washington (B.A., 1958) and studied composition at Mills College and Stanford (D.M.A., 1964). Teaching at various colleges since 1965, he has been on the faculty of the Univ. of Michigan since 1973 (emeritus from 2008). Bolcom was involved in the 1960s revival of ragtime and has given many piano recitals of American popular songs, often accompanying his wife, the mezzo-soprano Joan Morris. As a composer, he has worked in a wide variety of genres—symphonic, e.g., Fantasia concertante (1985); chamber music, e.g., New Etudes for Piano (1977–86; Pulitzer Prize); and oratorio, e.g., Songs of Innocence and of Experience (1982). He has also written several operas, e.g., McTeague (1992); A View from the Bridge (1999), adapted from the Arthur Miller play; A Wedding (2004), adapted from a Robert Altman film; and Dinner at Eight (2017), adapted from the 1932 George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber play and the 1933 George Cukor film. Bolcom's eclectic approach involves a broad cross-fertilization of idioms, and his work typically combines a number of musical styles.

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