2003 – Kaija Saariaho

Kaija Saariaho of Finland won the $200,000 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition for 2003 for her first opera, “L`amour de loin,” (love from afar).

It premiered in August 2000 at the Salzburg Festival, directed by Peter Sellars and conducted by Kent Nagano. “L`amour de loin” is based on the story of the distant love of a 12th century troubadour for a countess.

Saariaho is the second woman to win and was selected from more than 150 entries.

About Kaija Saariaho
Kaija Saariaho is a Finnish composer internationally known and recognized for her works involving electronics.

Saariaho attended courses in computer music at IRCAM in Paris in 1982. Since then, the computer has been an important part of her composing technique. She has been living and working in Paris the past two decades.

Saariaho studied composition under Paavo Heininen at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. She was a professor of composition there from 1997 to 1998. Saariaho received her diploma in 1983 at the Musikhochschule in Freiburg after studying with Brian Ferneyhough and Klaus Huber.

She has composed many works since 1982. Concerts of her works were performed at the Savonlinna Opera Festival in 1986, London in 1989, Paris 1989 and 1991, Vienna in 1993, and Jakarta in 1989. Saariaho also is a contributor to the musical press and a lecturer at conservatories in Finland and abroad.

In 1986, Saariaho was awarded the Kranichsteiner Preis at the new music summer courses in Darmstadt. In 1988, Saariaho won the Prix Italia for her work “Stilleben.” In 1989 “Stilleben” and “Io” were both awarded the Ars Electronica Prize. She also won the recording of the year award from the Finnish Broadcasting Company in 1993. In 2000 she received the Nordic Music Prize for “Lonh” and the Stoeger Award of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in recognition of outstanding services to chamber music. In 2001 Saariaho was awarded the Rolf Schock Prize (Sweden) and the Kaske Prize (Germany).

Saariaho also has taken part in several multimedia productions; a full-length ballet, “Maa,” and a project to produce a CD-ROM, “Prisma,” about her work. She also completed a major work for chorus and orchestra, “Oltra mar,” which was premiered by the New York Philharmonic and Kurt Masur in 1999 as part of their millennium series of commissions.

The 2003 winning work, her first opera, was a co-commission of the Salzburg Festival, Theatre du Chatelet and the Santa Fe Opera. The world premiere was at the Santa Fe Opera in July 2002.

In January 2003 The Cleveland Orchestra will premiere her new orchestral work, “Orion,” with Franz Weiser-Most. In February 2003, the world premiere of “Terrestre,” a chamber music work, will be held as a part of Carnegie Hall’s series Making Music.