Widely considered to be one of America's leading composers, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich was born in Miami, Florida in 1939. She studied at the Florida State University and The Juilliard School where her major teachers were Roger Sessions and Elliott Carter. She also studied violin with Richard Burgin and Ivan Galamian and was a member of the American Symphony Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski.
Zwilich is the recipient of numerous prizes and honors, including the 1983 Pulitzer Prize in Music (the first woman ever to receive this coveted award). She was elected to the Florida Artists Hall of Fame and the American Academy of Arts and Letters and, in 1995, was named to the first Composer's Chair in the history of Carnegie Hall. Musical America designated her the 1999 Composer of the Year.
A prolific composer in virtually all musical media, Zwilich has produced four symphonies and other orchestral essays, numerous concertos for a wide variety of solo instruments, and a sizable canon of chamber and recital pieces. Her works are played regularly by the leading orchestras and ensembles throughout the world. Many of her works have been issued on recordings and she has been the subject of several radio and television feature programs.