Music Monday: Walker: Lilacs

When John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln in April of 1865, the United States (or at least the northern faction of it) was thrown into a period of profound national mourning. One result of this outpouring of grief was Walt Whitman's "O Captain, My Captain", but the poet also wrote a much longer pastoral elegy, "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd", a free-form poem that draws its imagery from drooping stars and keening birds. More than a century later, this poem would become the basis for George Walker's Lilacs, the first piece by a black composer to win the Pulitzer Prize.

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