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Northwestern University Announces Winner of 2021 Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize

American composer William Bolcom receives the award of $100,000


The Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University announced the most recent winner of the Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in composition.

Since 2003, the prize has been recognizing outstanding composers who have significantly influenced the field of composition. Previous winners include Jennifer Higdon, Steve Reich, and Esa-Pekka Salonen.

William Bolcom is a previous recipient of the National Medal of Arts, a Pulitzer Prize, and a Grammy Award.

Alongside the prize money of $100,000, Bolcom will also receive two on-campus residencies at the university, during which he will coach student ensembles, work with student composers, conduct masterclasses, and hear his work performed by students.

Born in Washington, Bolcom went on to study composition with Darius Milhaud and Olivier Messiaen. He was runner-up for the Prix de Rome at the Paris Conservatoire and has won an array of other prestigious awards. He works in a wide range of genres — completing sonatas, symphonies, operas, film scores, fanfares as well as an extensive catalog of chamber, choral, and vocal works.

“I am extremely delighted and grateful to have won Northwestern University’s Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition,” Bolcom said. “The Bienen School mounted an excellent production of my one-act opera ‘Lucrezia’ some years ago. My wife Joan Morris and I are looking forward to our time at the school over the next two years with enthusiasm.”

"The Bienen School of Music is thrilled to name renowned American composer William Bolcom the winner of the 2021 Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize,” said Toni-Marie Montgomery, the Dean of the Bienen School of Music. “After the challenges of the past year, it will be especially meaningful for our students and faculty to gather and benefit from Mr. Bolcom’s in-person residencies at Northwestern during the next two academic years,” she added.

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