David Serkin Ludwig is “a composer with something urgent to say” (Philadelphia Inquirer) whose music has been described as “arresting and dramatically hued” (The New York Times) and “supercharged with electrical energy and raw emotion” (Fanfare Magazine). An acclaimed composer, this year Ludwig was awarded the prestigious Pew Center for Arts and Heritage Fellowship in the Arts. In 2013, Ludwig’s choral work, “The New Colossus” was selected as the opening music for the private prayer service for the second inauguration of President Obama. In 2012 NPR Music selected him as one of the “Top 100 Composers Under Forty” in the world.
This season’s highlights include the premiere of a concerto written for pianist Anne-Marie McDermott, commissioned by the Bravo! Vail music festival in honor of their thirtieth anniversary. Ludwig was also awarded a Pew Center for Arts and Heritage Performance Grant to support the creation of The Anchoress, a new song cycle for the PRISM Quartet, Piffaro “The Renaissance Band,” and soprano Hyunah Yu. The work will open the 2018 season for the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. Other current commissions include a violin chamber concerto “Paganiniana” for Soovin Kim commissioned by a consortium of four summer music festivals, “Spiral Galaxy” for the Morgenstern Trio, and “Moto perpetuo” commissioned violinist Jennifer Koh for the New York Philharmonic biennial.
Ludwig has received commissions and notable performances from many of the most recognized artists and ensembles of our time. In 2006, Ludwig conducted a tour of his Concertino, which was one of the top ten most frequently performed orchestra works by a living composer that year, according to the League of American Orchestras. In 2015, he wrote a violin concerto for his wife, acclaimed violinist Bella Hristova; the concerto was commissioned by a consortium of eight orchestras across the United States. Past seasons have featured performances with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, National Symphony, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and Dresden Music Festival. Performers who have commissioned him include pianist Jonathan Biss, violinists Jaime Laredo and Jennifer Koh, eighth blackbird, the Dover and Borromeo Quartets, PRISM Saxophone Quartet, Carnegie Hall, Ravinia Steans Institute, and Music from Angel Fire. His music is currently featured on over a dozen commercially recorded CDs, including a complete album of his choral music by the Choral Arts Society.
An accomplished film composer, Ludwig recently scored Michael Almareyda's Cymbeline, which stars Dakota Johnson, Ed Harris, Ethan Hawke, Milla Jovovich, and Penn Badgley and was produced by Academy-Award winning producer Anthony Katagas (Twelve Years a Slave). Variety magazine wrote of Cymbeline: "[the director] has stripped the play down to only the most essential dialogue, filling the remaining space with slick music..."
The recipient of numerous awards and honors, in addition to the Pew Center Fellowship, Ludwig was a winner of the First Music Award, a two-time recipient of the Independence Foundation Fellowship, a Theodore Presser Foundation Career Grant, and awards from New Music USA, the American Composers Forum, the American Music Center, the Detroit Chamber Winds, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Last year, the Delaware Symphony awarded him the A.I. du Pont Award for his “significant contribution to contemporary classical music.” Choral Arts Philadelphia honored Ludwig as a City Cultural Leader in 2009.
Ludwig was the Young Composer in residence at the Marlboro Music School for three consecutive years. In addition to Marlboro, he has had several fellowships at the Yaddo and MacDowell artist colonies and was a resident artist at the Isabella Gardner Museum. After a three-year residency with the Vermont Symphony funded by Meet the Composer, he is now the permanent New Music Advisor for that orchestra.
He is the composer-in-residence and director of composition programs at the Atlantic Music Festival, Lake Champlain Festival, and the Lake George Festival, and is the Artistic Director of the Curtis Young Artist Summer Program. Additionally, he has served on the faculty of Yellow Barn and the Ravinia Festival Steans Institute. Active abroad, Ludwig was in residence at the HighSCORE festival in Italy, the Shanghai International Summer Music Festival, the Shanghai University for Science and Technology, and is the resident composer for the STUDIO2021 Ensemble at Seoul National University. He was in residence for the Kingston Chamber Music Festival for their 25th Anniversary Season and was the 2015 Composer-in-Residence at Music from Angel Fire.
Born in Bucks County, P.A., Ludwig comes from several generations of eminent musicians. His grandfather was the pianist Rudolf Serkin and his great-grandfather, the violinist and composer Adolf Busch. His teachers included John Corigliano, Richard Danielpour, Jennifer Higdon, Richard Hoffmann, and Ned Rorem, and he holds degrees from Oberlin, The Manhattan School, Curtis Institute, Juilliard School, and a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. Ludwig is chair of the composition faculty of the Curtis Institute where he also serves as the Gie and Lisa Liem Artistic Advisor. As director of the Curtis 20/21 Contemporary Music Ensemble since 2009, he has overseen the commissioning and recording of dozens of new works and the performance of a multitude of programs in some of the most recognized venues in the US and abroad.