David Ludwig’s first memory was singing Beatles songs with his sister–his second was hearing his grandfather perform at Carnegie Hall; foreshadowing a diverse career collaborating with many of today’s leading soloists, ensembles, filmmakers, choreographers, and writers. An accomplished artist who has achieved recognition in a wide range of media he has been described as “a composer with something urgent to say” (Philadelphia Inquirer) whose music is “arresting and dramatically hued” (The New York Times) and “supercharged with electrical energy and raw emotion” (Fanfare Magazine). His work, “The New Colossus,” opened the private prayer service for President Obama’s second inauguration, followed the same year by NPR Music naming him in the world’s “Top 100 Composers Under 40.” In 2016, he won the A.I. du Pont Award for his “significant contribution to contemporary classical music” and in 2018 received the prestigious Pew Center for Arts and Heritage Fellowship in the Arts. In 2021 Ludwig was named a Steinway Artist by Steinway and Sons and in 2022 he was awarded the Stoeger Prize by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
Recent 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 Performance Grant to support the creation of The Anchoress, a monodrama for the PRISM Quartet, Piffaro “The Renaissance Band,” and soprano Hyunah Yu. The work opened the 2018 season for the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society and was described by the New Yorker as having an “audience rapt,” with music “not bound by any era.” Other recent commissions include “Sinfonia Concertante” a “quadruple concerto” for the Pittsburgh Symphony led by Manfred Honeck, “Organistrum” for Anthony and Demarre McGill with the Aizuri Quartet, and “Les Adieux”, a clarinet concerto written for David Shifrin and a consortium of orchestras.
Ludwig has received commissions and notable performances from many of the most recognized artists and ensembles of our time. In 2009, he conducted a tour of his Concertino with the Vermont Symphony 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, commissioned by a consortium of eight major orchestras across the United States. Past seasons have featured performances with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, National Symphony, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and the Dresden Music Festival. Performers who have commissioned him include Jonathan Biss, Jeremy Denk, Jaime Laredo, Anthony McGill, eighth blackbird, the Dover and Borromeo Quartets, PRISM Saxophone Quartet, Carnegie Hall, Ravinia Steans Institute, and Music from Menlo. His music is currently featured on over a dozen commercially recorded CDs, including a complete album of his choral music recorded by the Choral Arts Society and a new recording of “The Anchoress” which was released to critical acclaim.
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. 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 and Performance Grants, Ludwig won the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Stoeger Prize, awarded to one composer every two years for “significant contributions to chamber music”. In addition, he 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, Detroit Chamber Winds, and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2018 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 has been the permanent New Music Advisor for that orchestra for over a decade. This year features residencies with Symphony Tacoma, the Rogue Valley Symphony, and the Grossman Ensemble at the University of Chicago.
He has been 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 and Curtis Chamber Music Nantucket. Additionally, he has served on the faculty of Yellow Barn, Mostly Modern, and the Ravinia Festival Steans Institute. Active abroad, Ludwig has been in residence at the HighSCORE festival in Italy, the Shanghai International Summer Music Festival, the Shanghai University for Science and Technology, and was in residence with the STUDIO2021 Ensemble at Seoul National University and the Intimacy of Creativity Program at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He also served as composer-in-residence for the Kingston Chamber Music Festival for their twenty-fifth Anniversary Season and was the 2015 Composer-in-Residence at Music from Angel Fire for their thirtieth.
Born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Ludwig attended high school in New York City. He comes from several generations of eminent musicians, including his uncle Peter Serkin, grandfather Rudolf Serkin, and great-grandfather Adolf Busch. He holds degrees from Oberlin, The Manhattan School, Curtis Institute, Juilliard School, and a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania with additional studies at the University of Vienna. After serving on the composition faculty of The Curtis Institute of Music for nearly two decades Ludwig was appointed Dean and Director of Music at the Juilliard School in 2021. He lives in New York City with his wife, acclaimed violinist Bella Hristova (and their four beloved cats Schmoopy, Uni, Frankie, and Lili).