|Name:||Ellen Taaffe Zwilich|
|Birth Day:||April 30, 1939|
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She studied violin at Florida State University. She was initially fascinated by atonal music, but eventually developed a post-modernist, neoromantic style.
Ellen Taaffe was born in Miami, Florida, and began her studies as a violinist, earning a B.M. from Florida State University in 1960. She moved to New York City to play with the American Symphony Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski. She later enrolled at Juilliard, eventually (in 1975) becoming the first woman to earn the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts in composition. Her teachers included John Boda, Elliott Carter, and Roger Sessions. She first came to prominence when Pierre Boulez programmed her Symposium for Orchestra with the Juilliard Symphony Orchestra in 1975.
Zwilich's compositional style is marked by an obsession with "the idea of generating an entire work – large-scale structure, melodic and harmonic language, and developmental processes – from its initial motives." In addition to large scale orchestral works like Symbolon (1988), Symphony No. 2 (Cello Symphony) (1985), and Symphony No. 3 (1992), she has written a number of notable, smaller-scale concertos. These include works for trombone (1988), bass trombone (1989), flute (1989), oboe (1990), bassoon (1992), horn (1993), trumpet (1994) and clarinet (2002). She has also written a small number of choral works and song cycles. Zwilich's music was conducted by Pierre Boulez at Juilliard in 1975. Her major breakthrough came after winning the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for her Symphony No. 1. Following this, she was commissioned to work on two more symphonies, for the San Francisco Symphony and for the New York Philharmonic's 150th anniversary. Symbolon has been performed in Europe, Asia and America.
Some of her work during this period was written for her husband, violinist Joseph Zwilich, who played in the orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera. He died in 1979, after which point Taaffe Zwilich refocused her compositional efforts on "communicating more directly with performers and listeners," softening her somewhat harsh, jagged style.
Her Symphony No. 1 (Three Movements for Orchestra) was premiered by the American Composers Orchestra in 1982, conducted by Gunther Schuller. It won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize, after which point her popularity and income from commissions ensured that she could devote herself to composing full-time. From 1995-99 she was the first occupant of the Composer's Chair at Carnegie Hall; while there, she created the "Making Music" concert series, which focuses on performances and lectures by living composers, a series which is still in existence.
She has received a number of other honors, including the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Chamber Music Prize, the Arturo Toscanini Music Critics Award, the Ernst von Dohnányi Citation, an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, and four Grammy nominations. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 1999 she was designated Musical America's Composer of the Year. She has been professor at Florida State University, and has served for many years on the Advisory Panel of the BMI Foundation, Inc. In 2009 she became the Chair of the BMI Student Composer Awards following Milton Babbitt and William Schuman. She has received six honorary doctorates.
Currently, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich is 83 years, 4 months and 27 days old. Ellen Taaffe Zwilich will celebrate 84th birthday on a Sunday 30th of April 2023.
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