Walker's Piano Concerto was written under the patronage of the National Endowment for the arts in 1975, specifically for the gifted virtuoso Natalie Hinderas. The premiere was given by Hinderas with Paul Freeman the Minnesota Orchestra at the 1975 Black Music Symposium in Minneapolis. It was a featured work at the subsequent symposia in Detroit (1976) and New York (1977).
The initial material of the first movement employs a preponderance of major ands minor seconds, often displaced at the octave,. The second theme, a rarified abstraction of the composer's melodic gift, is given in turn by both the soloist and the orchestra in the exposition, but in the recapitulation appears only as a reference within the piano cadenza.
The second movement, although distinctly in Walker's own language, is a personal and musical memorial to Duke Ellington, whose death took place while this concerto was evolving. It's spirit and the piano and orchestral writing bear witness to this subtle and poetic tribute, totally centered around E-flat in a rounded-ternary form.
The finale is a sectional rondo, providing the concerto with the unifying element by its allusions to the major and minor seconds which had been the generating force of the opening movement.