David Ludwig is “a composer with something urgent to say” (Philadelphia Inquirer). His music has been described as “arresting and dramatically hued” (The New York Times) as well as “supercharged with electrical energy and raw emotion” (Fanfare). In 2013 his choral work, “The New Colossus,” was selected as the opening work for the private prayer service for President Obama and his cabinet at his second inauguration. NPR Music recently selected him as one of the Top 100 Composers Under Forty in the world.
Ludwig has received commissions and many notable performances from many of the most recognized artists and ensembles of our time. The Grammy Award-winning group eighth blackbird commissioned his work Haiku Catharsis in 2004. 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. He joined the Curtis On Tour Ensemble in 2009 for a series of concerts that won critical acclaim for his song-cycle From the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayám. Past seasons have featured performances with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the National Symphony, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and the Dresden Music Festival.
An accomplished film composer, Ludwig most recently scored Michael Almareyda's Cymbeline (2014), selected for showing at the Venice Biennial Film Festival. The film 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..."
Recent commissions include Lunaire Variations for Jonathan Biss, Pale Blue Dot for the Dover Quartet, Josquin Microludes for the PRISM Saxophone Quartet, The double concerto Seasons Lost for Jennifer Koh and Jaime Laredo, Kantigas for Arabic violinist Hannah Khoury, guitarist Jason Vieux, and percussionist Hafez Khotein at World Café Live, and the Aria Fantasy piano quartet for the 25th Anniversary of the Steans Institute at Ravinia. Upcoming projects include a seven-orchestra consortium commission to write a violin concerto for Bella Hristova, and Titania’s Dream for the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio.
Last season featured an extensive tour with The East Coast Chamber Orchestra (Virtuosity), a new work for Benjamin Beilman commissioned by Carnegie Hall (Swan Song), and the premiere of his bassoon concerto Pictures from the Floating World commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra for bassoonist Daniel Matsukawa with conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
The recipient of numerous awards and honors, Ludwig was a winner of the First Music Award, a two time recipient of the Independence Foundation Fellowship, a Theodore Presser Foundation Career Grant, as well as awards from New Music USA, American Composers Forum, the American Music Center, the Detroit Chamber Winds, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Choral Arts Philadelphia honored Ludwig as a City Cultural Leader in 2009 and released a recording of his complete choral works in 2012.
Ludwig was the Young Composer in residence at the Marlboro Music School for three consecutive years. In addition to Marlboro, he has been in repeated residence 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 Shanghai International Summer Music Festival in 2012, and is the resident composer for the STUDIO2021 Ensemble at Seoul National University. He is in residence for the Kingston Chamber Music Festival for their 25th Anniversary Season and is 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, violinist Adolf Busch. His teachers include 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 on the composition faculty of the Curtis Institute where he also serves as the Gie and Lisa Liem Dean of Artistic Programs and as the director of the Curtis 20/21 Contemporary Music Ensemble.