Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and conductor Karel Husa won the 1993 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition.
Husa, the Kappa Alpha professor at Cornell University, won the award for his “Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra.” The work was commissioned by the Frank Kerze Jr. Fund and was premiered March 2, 1989, by the University of Southern California Symphony with Lynn Harrell as soloist.
The 27-minute piece is composed in five parts, concluding with a cello solo that “soars up to its highest register, perhaps reminiscent of a flight of birds,” said Husa.
“The work…serves as a very colorful and inventive vehicle for the solo cello,” said David Harman, executive secretary of the Grawemeyer Award. “It deserves a place in the standard repertoire along side of concerti by Dvorak, Elgar, Haydn and other masters of the genre.”
“Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra” is one in a long line of award-winning works by the Czechoslavakian-born composer. His “String Quartet No. 3” received the 1969 Pulitzer Prize, and his “Music for Prague 1968” has been performed more than 7,000 times worldwide.
His “Concerto for Wind Ensemble” received the first Sudler Prize in 1983. He also has composed “Trojan Women,” a ballet commissioned by the University of Louisville School of Music and performed by the U of L Orchestra and the Louisville Ballet in 1981.
Other commissions include “Variations for Piano Quartet” and the “Concerto for Orchestra,” by the New York Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta, and “Recollections” for the Library of Congress.
Husa also has conducted many major orchestras, including those in Paris, London, Hamburg, Brussels, Prague, Stockholm, Oslo, Zurich, Hong Kong, Singapore, New York, Boston, Washington, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Syracuse, Aspen and Louisville.
A member of the Cornell faculty since 1954, Husa has received many accolades, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and awards from the American Academy and Institutes of Arts and Letters, UNESCO and the National Endowment for the Arts.