Walter Braxton (1952-2020)

Walter Braxton, a prolific but chronically under-performed Richmond composer, has died at 67.

A onetime boy soprano, Braxton began composing in childhood. In teenage, he came to the attention of Edgar Schenkman, then the music director of the Richmond Symphony, who advised him on composition and invited him to conduct the Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra. Braxton also was the principal flutist of the International Music Festival Institute of the London Symphony Orchestra.

He subsequently enrolled at the North Carolina School of the Arts, and later studied composition at Virginia Commonwealth University.

In the early 1970s, he was diagnosed with schizo-effective disorder, which plagued him for the rest of his life. He also struggled with substance abuse.

Braxton’s output includes five symphonies, two string quartets and a dozen other chamber works, a Requiem Mass, and the opera “To Damascus,” which he worked on for a quarter-century before its premiere in 2018 at Richmond’s Firehouse Theatre.

A profile of Braxton by Dale Brumfield, published in 2013 by Style Weekly:

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