Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Music

First Advisor

Donald Gray

Second Advisor

J. Daniel Jenkins


George Theophilus Walker (1922–2018), a prolific composer, pianist, and educator, was born on June 27, 1922, in Washington, D.C. He received degrees in music from Oberlin College, Curtis Institute of Music, and Eastman School of Music. His faculty appointments included Dillard University, Smith College, the University of Colorado, the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University, and Rutgers University.

In 1998, Walker received a Letter of Distinction from the American Music Center for his significant contributions to the field of contemporary American music, and in 1999 he was elected to the Academy of Arts and Letters. Perhaps most significantly, Walker holds the distinction of being the first Black composer to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for music, which he won in April 1996 for his composition Lilacs for Voice and Orchestra.

This study is an analysis of George Walker’s vocal works, Three Songs for High Voice and Piano and Lilacs for Voice and Orchestra. With reference to Walker’s ideas on melody, harmony, form, rhythm, and other musical and non-musical elements, it will investigate Walker’s compositional approach to vocal literature.


© 2023, Ginger Sharnell Jones-Robinson