Music Composition

Nominations for the 2020 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition are now open. See “The Nomination Process” below for instructions for submitting a nomination.

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Description

Music has the ability to inspire, to bring joy to those who hear it and those who create it. It can convey great emotion in just a few powerful notes. There is, perhaps, no greater expression of the human spirit. For this reason, the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition honors those who bring beauty and inspiration into the world.

The University of Louisville offers an international prize in recognition of outstanding achievement by a living composer in a large musical genre: choral, orchestral, chamber, electronic, song-cycle, dance, opera, musical theater, extended solo work and more. The award will be granted for a work premiered during the five-year period prior to the award deadline (i.e. time period Jan.1, 2014 – Dec. 31, 2018 for the 2020 award).

Prize Amount
The Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition is accompanied by a prize of $100,000, which is presented in full during the awards ceremony.

Eligibility
Musical works including, but not limited to, choral, orchestral, chamber, song-cycle, dance, opera, musical theater, extended solo.

History

In 1983, Charles Grawemeyer met with Dr. Jerry Ball, dean of the University of Louisville School of Music, to discuss establishing a prize in music, but Mr. Grawemeyer wasn’t sure what it should honor. So they talked and settled on composition, with Mr. Grawemeyer concluding, according to Dr. Ball, “If we did something like this perhaps we could find another Mozart.”

Music composition became the first of the five Grawemeyer award categories. Being first, it took almost two years to work out all the details of the program. The Nobel process was studied and incorporated in part. But Mr. Grawemeyer wanted what he termed a more “democratic” judging, eventually involving three levels: the U of L music faculty, an international jury of professionals and a lay (non-professional, but knowledgeable) panel.

In 1985, the first Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition went to Witold Lutoslawski, a Polish composer, for his Symphony No. 3.

Since then the Grawemeyer Award has achieved international recognition as the premier music composition award, regularly attracting between 150 and 200 entries from around the world.

“Charlie Grawemeyer could have gone to any school in the country, to any orchestra, any opera company, any place he might want to go to offer this prize. It’s wonderful that he kept it at home and honored his university,” said Ball.

The Nomination Process

Nominations

Nominations for the 2020 Award are now open. Click here to download the nomination form.

Note: paper copies of the nomination form will not be sent out in the future. To receive the updated form annually, please join our mailing list by clicking here. This list will not be shared in any way, and will be used only a few times a year for Award-related information.

About the award

Music has the ability to inspire, to bring joy to those who hear it and those who create it. It can convey great emotion in just a few powerful notes. There is, perhaps, no greater expression of the human spirit. For this reason, the Grawemeyer Award in Music Composition honors those who bring beauty and inspiration into the world.

The University of Louisville offers an international prize in recognition of outstanding achievement by a living composer in a large musical genre: choral, orchestral, chamber, electronic, song-cycle, dance, opera, musical theater, extended solo work and more. The award will be granted for a work premiered during the five-year period prior to the award deadline (i.e. time period Jan. 1, 2014 – Dec. 31, 2018 for the 2020 award).

Prize Amount

The Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition is accompanied by a prize of $100,000, which is presented in full during the awards ceremony.

Eligibility

Musical works including, but not limited to, choral, orchestral, chamber, song-cycle, dance, opera, musical theater, extended solo.

Judging Criteria
Excellence and originality.

Nominees
Composers.

Nominators
Any organization or individual with a reasonable professional connection to the nominee and the nominated work. Examples would include professional musical organizations, performers or performing groups, soloists, conductors, critics, publishers or heads of professional music schools or departments.

Nomination Procedure

Submission of a complete score, compact disc recording of a professional-level performance of the complete work, documentation of the premiere, $50 handling fee, supporting letter from nominator, composer’s biography and picture, and the completed nomination form signed by both composer and nominator.  Submission details follow and also are included on the nomination form. The nomination form includes an agreement that the score and recording will be kept by the University for archival purposes and spells out other requirements.

The Grawemeyer Music Award Committee invites the submission of scores by outstanding composers throughout the world and has established the following rules and procedures for its selection of the winning work:

Each nomination for the Grawemeyer Music Award must be nominated by a professional musical organization or individual (performer or performing group, conductor, critic, publisher, or head of a professional music school or department). A composer may not submit his or her own work. No more than one work of any composer may be submitted, and nominations from previous winners of this award will not be considered.

Each nomination must include the following:

    • One bound copy of the full score. (For works with non-English text, it is recommended that an English translation or English synopsis be submitted.)
    • One excellent quality recording of the complete work. Send only standard audio compact disc(s) – no mp3s or other types of sound file; please do not send DVDs or other media. If possible, please provide separate tracks for each movement of multi-movement works. Please omit tuning, opening applause, spoken commentary such as radio interviews or conductor’s remarks, or any other extraneous material at the beginning of the CD.
    • Documentation of the premiere public performance of the work between 1/1/14 and 12/31/18. A radio broadcast or sound recording does not constitute a premiere. The printed program (or a photocopy thereof) from the premiere performance is preferred. However, if this is not available, another form of documentation, such as a published review, or a newspaper or magazine article, will be accepted.  Only one form of documentation should be included. Works may be resubmitted during the period of eligibility.
    • Program notes in English.
    • Supporting letter in English from the nominator of the nomination, which must state nominator’s relation to the submitted work and nominator’s belief in the outstanding qualities of the work.
    • Composer’s photograph: high-res digital file on disc preferred but hard copy acceptable.
    • Composer’s biography in English, which should briefly outline the composer’s total achievement and recognition.
    • Completed, signed nomination form in English: 2020 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition nomination form.
    • Non-refundable handling fee of fifty dollars ($50.00 in U.S. currency). Payment may be made by check drawn on a U.S.bank or by international money order, payable to the Grawemeyer Music Award Committee, or by credit card. To pay via credit card click here.      
    • In the case of resubmission, entrants need not resubmit scores or recordings as these will be retrieved from the Grawemeyer Collection. However, all other required materials must be resubmitted and the handling fee paid.
    • All materials, including the handling fee, must be labelled with the name of the composer.
    • Please send only materials requested. Do not include press kits, reviews, articles, recordings of other works, etc.

After an initial screening, the Grawemeyer Music Award Committee will appoint a jury of three internationally recognized music professionals: normally a composer, a conductor and a critic. Each juror will select, from the qualifying scores, up to three works they deem worthy of the Award. These selected works are then submitted anonymously to the Final Committee to be judged by listening only. The Final Committee will then recommend one of these works to the President of the University of Louisville. Upon the recommendation of the President, the Board of Trustees of the University of Louisville will grant the Award. Final approval of the Grawemeyer Award winners is subject to approval by the University of Louisville Board of Trustees and the Trustees of the Louisville Presbyterian Seminary.

Completed nominations for the Grawemeyer Award must reach the University of Louisville by January 14, 2019. The Grawemeyer Award Committee will acknowledge receipt of all nominations by email only. Please allow a month after the deadline for such notification. Late or incomplete nominations will not be considered.

Submissions should be sent to:
Grawemeyer Music Award Committee
School of Music
University of Louisville
Louisville, Kentucky 40292
USA

Announcement will be made in December 2019 and the award will be made during April 2020.

The University of Louisville will retain all entered scores and recorded materials for inclusion in the Grawemeyer Collection of New Music, a part of the Library of the School of Music.

No payment will be made to the estate or heirs of a deceased composer.

Questions may be addressed via e-mail to grawmus@louisville.edu.

Previous Winners

2018 – Bent Sorensen

A triple concerto, “L’isola della Città” (The Island in the City), is for violin, cello and piano soloists and is played continuously in five movements.

Read More …

2017 – Andrew Norman

In three movements, “Play” explores the relationship of choice and chance, free will and control.

Read More …

2016 – Hans Abrahamsen

“let me tell you,” a song cycle for soprano and orchestra, presents a first-person narrative by Ophelia, the tragic noblewoman from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”

Read More …

2015 – No Award Given

2011 – Louis Andriessen

“La Commedia,” a multimedia opera by Dutch composer Louis Andriessen, has won the 2011 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition.

Read More…

2009 – Brett Dean

“The Lost Art of Letter Writing,” a four-movement concerto for violin and orchestra by Australian composer Brett Dean, earned the 2009 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition.

Read More…

2008 – Peter Lieberson

“Neruda Songs”

Read More…

2007 – Sebastian Currier

“Static”

Read More…

2006 – György Kurtág

“Concertante Op. 42”

Read More…

2005 – George Tsontakis

“Violin Concerto No. 2”

Read More…

2004 – Unsuk Chin

“Concerto for Violin and Orchestra”

Read More…

2003 – Kaija Saariaho

“L`amour de loin”

Read More…

2002 – Aaron Jay Kernis

“Colored Field”

Read More…

2001 – Pierre Boulez

“Sur Incises”

Read More…

2000 – Thomas Adès

“Asyla”

Read More…

1998 – Tan Dun

“Marco Polo”

Read More…

1997 – Simon Bainbridge

“Ad Ora Incerta — Four Orchestral Songs from Primo Levi”

Read More…

1996 – Ivan Tcherepnin

“Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra”

Read More…

1995 – John Adams

“Violin Concerto”

Read More…

1994 – Toru Takemitsu

“Fantasma/Cantos for Clarinet and Orchestra”

Read More…

1993 – Karel Husa

“Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra”

Read More…

1992 – Krzysztof Penderecki

“Adagio for Large Orchestra”

Read More…

1991 – John Corigliano

“Symphony No. 1”

Read More…

1990 – Joan Tower

“Silver Ladders”

Read More…

1989 – Chinary Ung

“Inner Voices”

Read More…

1987 – Harrison Birtwistle

“The Mask of Orpheus”

Read More…

1986 – Gyorgy Ligeti

“Etudes for Piano”

Read More…

1985 – Witold Lutoslawski

“Symphony No. 3”

Read More…

2019 Recipient

2019 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition Winner

Joel Bons

Dutch composer Joel Bons has won the 2019 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition for “Nomaden,” a one-hour work for cello solo and an ensemble of instruments from diverse cultures.

Bons, 65, wrote the piece for French cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras and the Atlas Ensemble, a group of 18 eminent musicians from China, Japan, Central Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Cello Biennale Amsterdam commissioned the work, which premiered in Amsterdam in October 2016 with Ed Spanjaard conducting.

Besides cello, the work incorporates a wide array of Asian instruments – Chinese erhu and sheng, Japanese sho and shakuhachi, Indian sarangi, Turkish kemenche, Armenian duduk, Persian setar and Azerbaijani tar and kamancha – many of which are precursors of Western instruments.

“’Nomaden’ is not a traditional concerto but a work for cello and instruments from cultures around the world,” Bons said. “I imagined an unlimited potential of combinations and an unheard spectrum of timbres. My aim was to create a piece in which the musicians and the instruments, in all their cultural differences, could bloom in full glory.”

Bons, a music composition professor at the Conservatory of Amsterdam, learned about world music as a child by listening to his parents’ record collection. In 1980, he co-founded the contemporary music group Nieuw Ensemble, which earned the Prince Bernhard Fund Music Prize in 1998 for “markedly lively and adventurous” programming.

He founded Atlas Ensemble in 2002 and continues to serve as its artistic director, winning the Amsterdam Prize for the Arts in 2005. In 2009, he started Atlas Academy/Lab, a laboratory for the creation of intercultural music.

His pieces have been performed by ensembles and orchestras in Europe, China and Canada.

“Art of all kinds is becoming more and more eclectic, juxtaposing materials and influences in increasingly new ways,” said Marc Satterwhite, a University of Louisville music professor who directs the music award. “’Nomaden’ is one of the most successful musical examples of this trend in recent years.”

Recipients of the 2019 Grawemeyer Awards are being named this week pending formal approval by university trustees. The annual, $100,000 prizes reward outstanding ideas in music, world order, psychology, education and religion. Winners will visit Louisville in April to accept their awards and give free talks on their winning ideas.

For more details on the music award, contact Marc Satterwhite at marc.satterwhite@louisville.edu.

Video Interviews with Past Recipients

Trio tries to escape shadows of the orchestra in L’isola della Città
2018 Music Composition Recipient Bent Sorensen

‘Play’ Explores Choice and Chance, Free Will and Control
2017 Music Composition Recipient Andrew Norman

Adding Emotional Depth and Nuance to Limited Words
2016 Music Composition Recipient Hans Abrahamsen

Music has the Power to Make our Lives Better
2014 Music Composition Recipient Djuro Zivkovic

An Innovative Fusion of Musical and Visual Art
2013 Music Composition Recipient Michel van der Aa

Eclectic Influences and Distinct Personality
2012 Music Composition Recipient Esa-Pekka Salonen

Multimedia Opera Drawn from Dante
2011 Music Composition Recipient Louis Andriessen

Inspired by Music, Love
2010 Music Composition Recipient York Hoeller

Interview With Brett Dean
2009 Music Composition Recipient Brett Dean

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