The University of Louisville and the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition note with sadness the passing of composer Karel Husa on Dec. 14 at the age of 95. Husa won the Grawemeyer in 1993 for his Cello Concerto, commissioned and premiered by noted cellist Lynn Harrel. Mr. Husa had won many other major prizes and awards in the U.S. and abroad, including the Pulitzer Prize and a Guggenheim fellowship.
Born in Prague and educated in Europe, Mr. Husa came to the United States in 1954 to take a position at Cornell University. He taught there and at Ithaca College for many years. His students include some of the most prominent composers active today.
In addition to the Grawemeyer Award, Mr. Husa had a long and fruitful association with the UofL School of Music. His ballet, The Trojan Women, was commissioned for the opening of the School of Music building in 1980. He was twice the featured guest composer for the annual New Music Festival, and UofL commissioned one of the last pieces he was to complete, Cheetah, for symphonic band. His music was among that featured at a special Grawemeyer Award gala concert at Carnegie Hall in 2007, when faculty cellist Paul York performed the Grawemeyer Award-winning Cello Concerto with the University Symphony and the University Wind Ensemble performed Cheetah. The University Symphony, with conductor Kimcherie Lloyd and cellist Paul York, issued a CD of Husa’s music on the Ablaze label, entitled Music of Life – Orchestral Masterworks of Karel Husa, in 2012.
Mr. Husa was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Louisville in 2012.