1996 – Ivan Tcherepnin

A concerto written by composer Ivan Tcherepnin for violinist Lynn Chang and cellist Yo-Yo Ma captured the 1996 award.

Tcherepnin’s “Double Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Orchestra,” a 23-minute work premiered by the Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras June 3, 1995, was selected from 173 entries to receive the $150,000 Grawemeyer prize.

Tcherepnin described the piece as reminiscent of, and in some places actually borrowing from, the works of Tchaikovsky, Scriabin, Schoenberg, Debussy and Stravinsky, among others. The work invokes a celestial theme, with the violin descending and the cello ascending into a grand convergence and a brief period of reflection. The instruments then turn back toward the extremes and a soft, peaceful conclusion.

“Double Concerto” is one of many celebrated works by Tcherepnin, who earned a reputation during the past three decades as an innovator in the field of live electronic music and multimedia. His honors included awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (1963-1995) and the National Endowment for the Arts (1977). His performance of “Santur Opera” earned the 1982 Grand Prize of the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria.

A graduate of Harvard University, Tcherepnin taught and directed the school’s Electronic Music Studio. He also taught at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Stanford University. His commissions included “The Creative Act,” a live electronic score for the ballet “Field and Figures;” “Concerto for Two Continents,” which he recorded with the American Wind Symphony Orchestra; and “And So It Came to Pass,” an oratorio commissioned in 1991 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Oratorio Music Society at Carnegie Hall.

A member of one of the music world’s most respected and best-known families, Tcherepnin performed, conducted and lectured in Europe, Asia and the United States. He was the grandson of Russian composer Nicolai Tcherepnin; the son of Alexander Tcherepnin, a Russian composer who taught at DePaul University in the 1950s; and the brother of Serge Tcherepnin, former director of the Electronic Music Studio at New York University and founder of Serge Modular Music Systems in California. Ivan Tcherepnin died in 1998.