Ellen Taaffe Zwilich (b. April 30, 1939 in Miami, Florida) is considered one of America's leading composers. She studied at the Florida State University and with Roger Sessions and Elliott Carter at The Juilliard School. She also studied violin with Richard Burgin and Ivan Galamian and was a member of the American Symphony Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski. Zwilich's music has received numerous prizes and honors, including the 1983 Pulitzer Prize in Music for her Symphony #1. She was 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 the 1999 Composer of the Year.
A prolific composer in virtually all musical media, Zwilich has produced 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 played regularly by the leading orchestras and ensembles throughout the world. Many of her works have been issued on recordings and she has been the subject of several radio and television feature programs. She is a Distinguished Professor of Music at Florida State University.