George Walker (b. June 27, 1922, Washington, DC–d. Aug. 23, 2018, Montclair, NJ) was a composer, pianist, and organist. Born in Washington, DC, he began playing piano at age 5. While attending Dunbar High School in Washington, DC, Howard University hosted his first public recital at age 14 in the university's Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel. He graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory at 18 with the highest honors in his Conservatory class. Walker then attended the Curtis Institute of Music to study piano with Rudolf Serkin, chamber music with William Primrose and Gregor Piatigorsky, and composition with Rosario Scalero, graduating as one of the first black graduates in 1945. He became first black recipient of a doctoral degree from the University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music in 1956.
Walker balanced a career as a concert pianist, teacher, and composer. He taught at Dillard University (1954), the New School for Social Research, Smith College (1961–68) where he became the first tenured black faculty member, the University of Colorado Boulder (1968–69), Rutgers University (1969–92), the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University (1975–78), and the University of Delaware (1975–76). In 1957 Walker was awarded both a Fulbright Fellowship and a John Hay Whitney Fellowship and studied composition with Nadia Boulanger in Paris.
In 1996, Walker became the first black composer to receive the Pulitzer Prize In Music for his work, Lilacs.