William Albright (1944-1998), composer and performer, was concertized widely in Europe, Canada, and the United States specializing in concerts of new music. Although he premiered over thirty new works written by American and European composers, he was also highly regarded as an interpreter of classic ragtime and early jazz styles such as Harlem stride and boogie-woogie.
As a composer he was well-known for his keyboard works, though he produced works for every medium, several of which involve electronic, visual and theatrical elements. He was the recipient of many commissions and awards, among them the Queen Marie-Jose Prize, an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, two Fulbright and two Guggenheim Fellowships, the Symphonic Composition Award of Niagara University, two National Endowment for the Arts Grants, two Koussevitzky Commission. In 1979 he was composer-in-residence at the American Academy in Rome; in the same year, his composition Stipendium peccati was selected as the United States entry for the International Society of Contemporary Music Festival. The work Alliance was a similar selection in 1970, and the same organization highlighted the work Bacchanal in their programming for 1990 in Oslo, Norway. Major orchestras which have performed Albright's works have included the Syracuse Symphony, the Detroit Symphony, the Budapest Philharmonic, the Austrian Radio Orchestra, the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Bergen Symphony, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the American Composers Orchestra.
Albright was Professor of Music Composition at the University of Michigan. In 1973 he was honored with a Distinguished Service Award from that institution, and in 1990 he received a Faculty Recognition Award. Albright pursued research in live electronic music and was Associate Director of the University's Electronic Music Studio. His organ commissioning series, started in 1975, made substantial contributions to the literature for that instrument.
Albright's organ works are available on Gothic, CRI, Arkay, Titanic and Nonesuch recordings. A contract with Music Masters/Musical Heritage Society produced five piano recordings, among them the music of James P. Johnson, Albright's own rag compositions, and the 1990 release of the complete rags of Scott Joplin. Albright also appears as performer or composer on Advance, Capstone, Cambria, Crystal, Titanic, Opus One and five other CRI releases. His compositions are published principally by C.F. Peters, with Elkan-Vogel, Inc., Jobern, Universal, Dorn, Mel Bay and E.B. Marks representing several other works.