Composers Datebook®

George Walker's Trombone Concerto

George Walker (1922-2018): Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra (Denis Wick, trombone; London Symphony; Paul Freeman, conductor.) in Sony Black Composers Series CD set 19075862152

Composer's Datebook - Jan. 17, 2023


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January 17, 2023


In Rochester, New York, on today’s date in 1957, there was a concert at the Eastman School of Music, conducted by the school’s famous director Howard Hanson, showcasing new works composed by Eastman graduate students.  Included on the program was a brand-new “Trombone Concerto” by George Walker.

Back then, Walker was better known as a remarkable pianist. He was a graduate of the prestigious Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, after all, a student of Rudolf Serkin, and a quite impressive recording exists from his Eastman days of Walker as soloist in the Brahms Second Piano Concerto.  But for Walker, as an African-American, a successful career as a concert pianist in a still-segregated America was not possible – it would be 10 years before Andre Watts broke that taboo, remember, so Walker opted for a musical career as a composer and educator, and proved remarkably accomplished at both. 

Walker’s early “Trombone Concerto” was a hit from the start. “The composer evidently had a soloist of superior ability in mind in writing this difficult and complex work,” wrote a reviewer at the premiere. “It is music of sound and fury, with lots of dissonance and imaginative drive. Soloist and composer shared in prolonged applause.”

Music Played in Today's Program

George Walker (1922-2018): Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra (Denis Wick, trombone; London Symphony; Paul Freeman, conductor.) in Sony Black Composers Series CD set 19075862152

On This Day


  • 1706 - American statesman, composer of string quartets, publisher and inventor of the glass harmonica Benjamin Franklin, in Boston (Gregorian date: Jan. 28);

  • 1712 - English composer John Stanley (Gregorian date: Jan. 28);

  • 1734 - Belgian composer François-Joseph Gossec, in Vergnies;

  • 1907 - Dutch composer Henk Badings, in Bandung, Java;

  • 1927 - American composer Donald Erb, in Youngstown, Ohio;

  • 1934 - Canadian-born American composer, conductor and clarinetist Sydney Hodkinson, in Winnipeg, Manitoba;


  • 1738 - French composer and organist Jean François Dandrieu, age c. 56, in Paris;

  • 1750 - Italian composer Tomaso Albinoni, age 78, in Venice;

  • 1826 - Spanish composer Juan Crisostomo Arriaga, age 19, in Paris;

  • 1869 - Russian composer Alexander Dargomizhsky, age 55, in St. Peterburg (Julian date: Jan. 5);

  • 1969 - Polish composer Grazyna Bacewicz, age 55, in Warsaw;


  • 1880 - Franck: Piano Quintet in f, in Paris, by the Marsick Quartet, with Camille Saints-Saëns at the piano;

  • 1901 - Mascagni: opera "Le Maschere" (The Masks), simultaneously in 6 cities;

  • 1944 - Copland: Violin Sonata, at Times Hall in New York, by violinist Ruth Posselt with the composer at the piano;

  • 1991 - Ellen Taaffe Zwilich: Oboe Concerto, by soloist John Mack, with the Cleveland Orchestra, Christoph von Dohnanyi conducting;


  • 1745 - Handel publishes a letter in the London ":Daily Advertiser" offering to return three-fourths money to the subscribers to his current series of concerts, then in progress, suggesting that his attempts to please the public have proved ineffectual; The letter prompts a flurry of support, and Handel resumes the concerts a week later; In all, 16 out of the promised 24 concerts would take place; The series closed on April 23, 1745, with a revival performance of ":Messiah." (Gregorian dates: Jan. 28 and May 4, respectively);

  • 1919 - Polish composer and pianist Ignaz Jan Paderewski becomes premiere of Poland.