1985 – Witold Lutoslawski

Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski has captured the first University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition. Lutoslawski, 72, won the award for his Symphony No. 3, which was given its world premiere by Sir Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Sept. 29, 1983.

He will receive $150,000, to be paid in five annual installments of $30,000, and will come to Louisville to receive his award in the fall. The Louisville Orchestra is expected to perform his winning piece, possibly conducted by the composer. Lutoslawski said he will use the award to help establish scholarships for fellow composers in his country.

“Symphony No. 3” was among 204 entries from more than a dozen countries. Entries were limited to works that received first performances in 1983 or 1984. Preliminary judging was conducted by an international jury; the final selection was made by a six-member committee headed by U of L School of Music Dean, Jerry Ball.

The premiere of the work received an enthusiastic reception from the audience and critics alike. John von Rhein of The Chicago Tribune called it “a most eloquent testimony to the power of the unfettered human spirit.” Robert C. Marsh of “The Chicago Sun-Times” proclaimed it “rich in invention and dazzling in its imaginative use of the resources of an orchestra such as ours.”

Lutoslawski’s other works include his 1941 Variations on a Theme of Paganini for Two Pianos, a Double Concerto for Oboe and Harp, a Cello Concerto and Concerto for Orchestra.

(Some information was taken from the “Courier-Journal,” 3/15/85)