Husa, Karel

Period: Early 20th Century

Born: Sunday, August 7, 1921 in Prague, Czechoslovakia

As of October 2015 this composer is still living.
To report updated information, please see the Contact Info page.

Nation of Origin: Czechoslovakia/United States

Major Works:
String Quartet No. 3 (1968)

Other Information:
Karel Husa is an internationally known composer and conductor who was Kappa Alpha professor at Cornell University from 1954 until his retirement. An American citizen since 1959, Husa was born in Prague on August 7, 1921, studying at the Prague Conservatory and Academy of Music, and later at the National Conservatory and Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris. Among his teachers were Arthur Honegger, Nadia Boulanger, Jaroslov Ridky, and conductor Andre Cluytens.

Husa was elected Associate Member of the Royal Belgian Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1974, and to the American Academy of the Arts and Letters in 1994. He has received honorary doctorates from Coe College, the Cleveland Institute of Music, Ithaca College, Baldwin-Wallace College, St. Vincent College, and Hartwick College. Also, he has been the recipient of many awards and recognitions, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and awards from the American Academy and Institute of arts and Letters, UNESCO, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kussevitzky Foundation, the Czech Academy for the Arts and Sciences, the Lili Boulanger Award, Bilthoven (Holland) Contemporary Music Prize, a Kennedy Center-Friedheim Award, and the Sudler International Award. His Concerto for Cello and Orchestra eamed him the 1993 Grawemeyer Award. In 1995, Husa was awarded the Czech Republic's highest civilian recognition, the State Medal of Merit, First Class.

His String Quartet No. 3 received the 1969 Pulitzer Prize and, with over 7,000 performances, his Music for Prague 1968 has become part of the modem repertory. Another well-known work, Apotheosis of this Earth is called by Husa a "manifesto" against pollution and destruction. Major orchestras have perfommed his works all over the world. Two works were commissioned by the New York Philharmonic: Concerto for Orchestra premiered by Zubin Mehta, and Concerto for Violin and Orchestra written for concertmaster Glen Dicterow and conducted by Kurt Masur; and the Concerto for Trumpet was commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Sir Georg Solti for performance in Chicago and on tour with principal trumpeter Adolph Herseth. Among his recent compositions are the String Quartet No. 4 (a commission for the Colorado Quartet), Cayuga Lake (for Ithaca College's centennial celebration), and Les couleurs fauves for wind ensemble (written for Northwestern University).

Karel Husa has conducted many major orchestras including those in Paris. London, Hamburg, Brussels, Prague, Stockholm, Oslo, Zurich, Hong Kong, Singapore, New York, Boston, Washington, Cincinnati, Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse, Louisville and others. Every year he visits the campuses of music schools and universities to guest conduct and lecture on his music.

Essay contributed by:
Jordanna Rock-Garden

General Bibliography:
Slonimsky, Nicolas, Music Since 1900, Schirmer Books, July 1994, ISBN: 0028724186

Salzman, Eric, Twentieth Century Music: An Introduction, Pearson, October 2001, ISBN: 0130959413

Slonimsky, Nicolas and Kuhn, Laura; Editors, Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, Gale Group, December 2000, ISBN: 0028655257

Sadie, Stanley and Tyrrell, John; Editors, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Groves Dictionaries, Inc., January 2004, ISBN: 0195170679

Rutherford-Johnson, Tim, Kennedy, Michael, and Kennedy, Joyce The Oxford Dictionary of Music, Oxford University Press, 6th Edition, 2012, ISBN: 0199578109

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Biographical essay from Wikipedia