Douglas Therrell of North Carolina and Ellen Zwillich on FSU Board

R Douglas Therrell Charlotte North Carolina, a member of the Florida State University College of Music Board will be sitting with his classmate and long time friend when she receives her most recent of many awards at a dinner held in her honor on the campus of the University in November. Ellen Taaffe Zwilich is one of the most recognized and honored music professionals in the US and abroad. In 1983 she became the first woman ever to receive the coveted Pulitzer Prize in Music. Her compositions have been performed by symphonies, in cities large and small, throughout the world.

With all of the acclaim she was as a student and remains today a friendly and thoroughly charming person. Douglas remembers her diversified musical activities as a student at FloridaStateUniversity. She was not only avidly pursuing the studies of composition, but performing as violinist and concert mistress with the University Symphony. Underscoring the well-rounded personality aspect, she was also playing trumpet in the Symphonic Band, and even the Marching Chiefs. At the conclusion of a Marching Chiefs sponsored home coming weekend event honoring her Pulitzer Prize achievement, she was approached by old friend Doug Therrell with the following comment. “It’s so great to hear all of these wonderful things they have said about you this evening and I am so relieved to know that you have something to fall back on now that you have lost your lip” (meaning embouchure for playing the trumpet). Obviously, by that time the trumpet was long removed from her mind and career. Hence the comment circulated throughout the group and underscored the gracious and friendly personality of the Florida State University College of Music alumni superstar.

Ellen Taaffe Zwilich

Francis Eppes Distinguished Professor of Composition

ELLEN TAAFFE ZWILICH, 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 1999 Composer of the Year. A prolific composer in all media except opera, 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 commissioned and played regularly by the leading orchestras and ensembles throughout the world.

Currently back at Florida State University College of Music, Ellen holds the Francis Eppes Distinguished Professorship, is widely considered to be one of America’s leading composers. She studied at FloridaStateUniversity and the JuilliardSchool, where her major teachers were Roger Sessions, John Boda 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.

Many of her works have been issued on recordings, and Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (8th edition) states: “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.”

Learn more about Doug’s family here.


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