A Pulitzer and an Artists Hall of Fame?

April 30, 2010

Today in Florida History

A quick online search for “today in florida history” led to the discovery that on this day in 1939 Ellen Taaffe Zwilich was born in Miami.  This would be great news except for the fact that I have no idea who  Ellen Taaffee Zwilich is. 

Another quick search results in a  brief bio on Zwilich proclaiming her fame as the first woman composer to win a Pulitzer Prize in Music.  This happened in 1983, long after her graduation from my alma mater, Florida State University.  Zwilich also earned a Doctorate Degree from the ulta-infamous Juilliard School in New York.  You can’t have much higher credentials in music than that!

According to Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians,

There are not many composers in the modern world who possess the lucky combination of writing music of substance and at the same time exercising an immediate appeal to mixed audiences. Zwilich offers this happy combination of purely technical excellence and a distinct power of communication.

I’m no classical music aficionado.  My education in music consists of one course taken in college, an Introduction to Music, if I recall correctly. What I do remember well from that class is my joy of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Debussey’s Claire de Lune

In the past, music has been mostly a background theme in my life.  Songs to dance to, rock out to, cry to, daydream to, sing along with, or help promote a self-pity party now and again.   What have I been missing out on?  I’ve decided to start really listening, to step outside my comfort zone in this creative art.  Maybe I’ll even choose Ms. Zwilich as the composer/musician to start with.   

Florida has an Artist’s Hall of Fame?

Many articles I came across during my search for more information and insight on Zwilich reveal that she has been elected to the Florida Artists Hall of Fame.  Who knew Florida had an Artists Hall of Fame?   From Ernest Hemingway to Burt Reynolds, they’re all there.  Should make for an interesting side trip the next time I’m in Tallahassee.