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Classical 101

Ellen Taaffe Zwilich Featured on Symphony @ 7

Ellen Taaffe Zwilich
Bill Keefrey
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich

This evening on Symphony @ 7, for her 75th birthday, I'll have Symphony No. 4, "The Gardens" for Chorus, Children's Chorus and Orchestra by American composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich.

Ellen Taaffe Zwilich was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music.  That was back in 1983, and she is today widely considered to be one of America's leading composers.  As hard as it might be to believe, in 1975 she was also the first woman to earn the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts in composition from Juilliard.  Now, she is one of the most frequently performed contemporary composers.

The Fourth Symphony from 1999, was inspired by the "spectacular beauty of Michigan State University's gardens" and was commissioned by Michigan State.  The work is in four movements:

  1. "Introduction: Litany of Endangered Plants" for chorus and orchestra, with the text consisting of the Latin names of endangered plants in the W.J. Beal Botanical Garden.
  2. "Meditation on Living Fossils" for orchestra, expresses the magnificence of ancient trees.
  3. "A Pastoral Journey," which includes the chorus and children playing hand bells, has a text freely adapted from a line in the Bible.
  4. "The Children's Promise" is for orchestra with adult and  children's chorus with a text by Erik LaMont.  This movement was inspired by the Michigan 4-H Children's Garden, a replica of Monet's garden at Giverny.

Join me for some beautifully flowering music by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich.  Beethoven's Piano concerto No. 2 will complete the hour on Symphony @ 7 Thursday evening on Classical 101.

Here's music from the work that won Zwilich the Pulitzer Prize in 1983:


Classical 101 Ellen Taaffe Zwilich