Works performed by Earplay:

Four Kauai Studies
Mirror of Diana
Trio Rustica

Born in Salem, Oregon, in 1947, Walter Winslow was drawn to music as a young child, and it remained his passion throughout his life. He began composing at the age of eight. At nineteen, when he was attending Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music he wrote the first of two string quartets. Graduating summa cum laude with degrees in musical composition and Russian in 1970, he went on to pursue graduate studies at the University of California at Berkeley with Edwin Dugger, Andrew Imbrie, and Olly Wilson, and earned a Ph.D. in music in 1975. Winslow pursued a teaching career in musical composition during the decades that followed, with positions at Berkeley, Oberlin, Reed College and Columbia University and finally at the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey where he was a teacher of piano from 1990 to 1997. He was a gifted teacher. As composer Mario Pelusi, his colleague at Lawrenceville, once observed: "Taking a music lesson with Walter was often like looking into the soul of music itself." An accomplished pianist, Winslow played in recitals throughout his life. He was deeply committed to twentieth-century music, winning his first piano competition in 1965 with a rendition of Shostakovitch's Second Piano Concerto. But he had broad musical tastes, and the programs of his recitals read like a short history of western music, with works by Scarlatti, Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Chopin, and Schubert, as well as his own works and pieces by Schoenberg, Boulez and Mario Davidowsky. Winslow was diagnosed with cancer in December 1994 and given about a year and a half to live. He defied that initial bleak diagnosis by continuing to write music, to perform and to teach for another three years. That he could perform Bach's Goldberg Variations, one of the most demanding pieces in the piano repertoire, in two recitals in the Fall of 1997, just months before he died, was, in the words of his doctor, testimony to an extraordinary strength of character.

By the time of his death in 1998 at the age of fifty, Winslow had already earned a substantial reputation as a composer with works performed across the United States and in Canada, Belgium, Denmark and Italy. In the course of a distinguished career cut short, he composed over sixty works of music in a variety of genres, including songs, chamber music, works for solo instruments, vocal ensembles, orchestral music, works for chamber orchestra, works for chorus and orchestra, a musical theatre piece, and a composition for electronic tape. These works were commissioned and performed by some of the finest contemporary musicians and ensembles, including the Earplay Ensemble, the Gregg Smith Singers, Speculum Musicae, Cygnus Ensemble, the New York New Music Ensemble, and the New York Camerata. Winslow's compositions earned him such prestigious awards as the Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Rome Prize, a residency at the Rockefeller Study Center at Bellagio, Italy and grants from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

Walter Winslow's compositions are available from the American Composers Alliance, 170 West 74th Street, New York, NY 10023.

[from program for February 5, 2001 concert]