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Karel Husa: A Birthday Celebration

Perhaps the most important living composer, Karel Husa has been a true friend to the wind band. His body of works has raised the level of seriousness of music written for winds, in terms of meaningful content and emotional feeling. Throughout his long career his music has been a gift to the wind community, indeed the music community in general. This August marks the composer's 90th birthday, and UMWO will be celebrating this occassion in the most appropriate way: by playing his music! Our first two concerts next season will feature two of his major works for winds-his Music for Prague 1968 and Apotheosis of This Earth. This is the first in a series of blog posts that will focus on the composers wind works, and it starts with the detailed "Husa primer" below, found on G. Shirmer's website.

Karel Husa, winner of the 1993 Grawemeyer Award and the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for Music, is an internationally known composer and conductor. An American citizen since 1959, Husa was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, on August 7, 1921. After completing studies at the Prague Conservatory and, later, the Academy of Music, he went to Paris where he received diplomas from the Paris National Conservatory and the Ecole normale de musique. Among his teachers were Arthur Honegger, Nadia Boulanger, Jaroslav Ridky, and conductor Andre Cluytens. In 1954, Husa was appointed to the faculty of Cornell University where he was Kappa Alpha Professor until his retirement in 1992. He was elected Associate Member of the Royal Belgian Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1974 and has received honorary degrees of Doctor of Music from several institutions, including Coe College, the Cleveland Institute of Music, Ithaca College, and Baldwin Wallace College. Among numerous honors, Husa has received a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation; awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, UNESCO, and the National Endowment for the Arts; Koussevitzky Foundation commissions; the Czech Academy for the Arts and Sciences Prize; the Czech Medal of Merit, First Class, from President Vaclav Havel; and the Lili Boulanger award.

Husa's String Quartet No. 3 received the 1969 Pulitzer Prize, and his Cello Concerto the 1993 Grawemeyer Award. Music for Prague 1968, with over 7000 performances worldwide, has become part of the modern repertory. On February 13, 1990, Husa realized a long-time dream when he conducted the orchestral version of Music for Prague 1968 in Prague. Another well-known work of his, Apotheosis of This Earth, is called by Husa a "manifest" against pollution and destruction. Among other works, Husa has composed The Trojan Women, a ballet commissioned by the Louisville Ballet and Orchestra. Click here to read the full bio.

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