‹‹ Centennial Sounds

Julia Wolfe Witnessed 9/11 Up Close, And Wrote ‘Compassion’ In Response

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<p>(Photo: Peter Serling)</p>
<p>Composer Julia Wolfe</p>

Composer Julia Wolfe lives in Lower Manhattan, just blocks from where the Twin Towers once stood. She and her family watched 9/11 unfold around them, and dealt with the aftermath.

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Julia's accolades include a Pulitzer Prize in Music and a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant. She won recognition for writing big, ambitious pieces that look back at American history. But she wrote one of her most stark, concise works as a response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. She called it “Compassion.”

Hear “Compassion” performed in concert by pianist Conrad Tao at the Aspen Music Festival and School -- and more of Julia's story -- in this episode of Centennial Sounds from CPR Classical and Colorado Public Radio.

What to listen to next? Check out these links:

  • Watch a documentary about Julia's Pulitzer Prize-winning piece, "Anthracite Fields"
  • See Conrad Tao perform a piece for piano and iPad in the CPR Performance Studio
  • Hear "Big Beautiful Dark and Scary," another musical response to 9/11 by Julia Wolfe, performed by the Bang On A Can All-Stars
  • Check out performances of contemporary music by Sarah Cahill, the pianist who commissioned "Compassion" and premiered it in 2001