1991 – John Corigliano

The pain, anger and frustration of watching friends suffer and die of AIDS led to the creation of John Corigliano’s “Symphony No. 1,” winner of the 1991 award.

The piece, commissioned by the Chicago Symphony orchestra, premiered March 15, 1990. Corigliano said the composition was inspired by “The Quilt,” an exhibit of thousands of interwoven fabric panels representing people who had died with AIDS. That exhibit “made me want to memorialize in music those I have lost, and reflect on those I am losing,” he said.

The piece has received critical acclaim throughout the United States.

“The Corigliano symphony… is a work of vast importance … and quite unlike any other piece for orchestra I have ever encountered,” said one critic. “This is not a piece to be talked about but to be experienced.”

Another critic called it “of staggering emotional impact and musical grandeur… like nothing else recently experienced in the world of music.”

“Symphony No. 1” is published by G. Shirmer Inc.

Corigliano is distinguished professor of music at Lehman College of the City University of New York. He was appointed the first composer-in-residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1987.