This beautiful string quartet starts with one note. Then another is added, followed by two more. It’s a composition that many might consider quite simple, almost understated, but its impact on classical music is enormous. Hello – I’m Loki Karuna, and on this edition of Noteworthy you and I will celebrate the legacy of the late great George Walker.

George Walker was born in our nation’s capital, back in 1922, and like many composers, was identified as having musical gifts at a very young age. He was admitted into the Oberlin Conservatory at 14, and soon after went on to the Curtis Institute, where his skills as a pianist and a composer were fully developed. About a decade later, George Walker wrote this work, which showcases how masterfully he was able to harness love, dedication, and perseverance into a relatively simple musical framework. It’s known today as his Lyric for Strings.

While his Lyric for Strings is his most performed work, George Walker wrote much more, including a Pulitzer Prize winning composition for voice and strings, which made him the very first Afro-American to win the award. George Walker passed away in 2018, but he lives forever as a gentle trailblazer, a tender teacher, and one of classical music’s most Noteworthy composers.

Noteworthy is a production of WDAV classical public radio.