William Albright

~ Person

Legal name: William Hugh Albright


William Albright (October 20, 1944 – September 17, 1998) was an American composer, pianist and organist.

Albright was born in Gary, Indiana, and began learning the piano at the age of five, and attended the Juilliard Preparatory Department (1959–62), the Eastman School of Music (1962–63) and the University of Michigan (1962–70), where he studied composition with Ross Lee Finney and George Rochberg, and organ with Marilyn Mason. He interrupted his studies for the 1968–69 academic year when he received a Fulbright scholarship to study with Olivier Messiaen in Paris. Upon his graduation in 1970 he was appointed to the faculty of the University of Michigan, where he taught until his death from liver failure in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1998 (Griffiths 1998).

His music combined elements of tonal and non-tonal classical music (in particular the influence of Messiaen) with American popular music and non-Western music (Gillespie 2001), in what has been described as "polystylistic" or "quaquaversal" music (Chambers 1999, 32)—which makes the definition of an overall style difficult (Perone 1988, abstract). In particular, he was an enthusiast for ragtime (Bassett 1999, 28–29) and made notable recordings of the piano rags of Scott Joplin and others. He also recorded an album of his own Ragtime compositions.

In addition to his compositional and teaching activities, he Albright maintained an active career and was regarded as both a virtuoso organist and pianist, performing many recitals on both instruments throughout North American and Europe. He commissioned new works for the organ from other contemporary composers to play on his international concert tours (Griffiths 1998). His hymns appear in hymnals of the Unitarian and Episcopalian Churches.

Albright's notable students include Gordon Beeferman, Derek Bermel, John Edgar Berners, John Burke, Evan Chambers, Chihchun Chi-sun Lee, Sam Davis, Gabriela Lena Frank, Alexander Frey, David Karl Gompper, Evan Hause, Katt Hernandez, Joseph Lukasik, Carter Pann, Frank Ticheli, and Michael Sidney Timpson.

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Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1971 New Music for Organ William Albright / William Bolcom 1
1993 Marches, Waltzes & Rags of Scott Joplin Scott Joplin; William Albright 1
1995 The Complete Rags of Scott Joplin Scott Joplin; William Albright 1

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