Julian Anderson’s “Litanies” wins the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition 2023

05.12.2022 – 16:00

University of Louisville

Louisville, Kentucky (ots/PRNewswire)

The fire at Notre Dame Cathedral and the death of a esteemed colleague influenced the making of “Litanies,” said British composer Julian Anderson, who won the 2023 Grawemeyer Award for Musical Composition for the work, the University of Louisville announced today .

“Notre Dame was on fire when I was writing the piece,” he recalls. “It was traumatizing to see such an important landmark of civilization burst into flames. The experience influenced my writing.” A year earlier, when Anderson began work on “Litanies,” Oliver Knussen, an acclaimed British composer, conductor and close friend, died, prompting Anderson to compose the work’s slow movement in his memory.

Radio France, the Hong Kong Sinfonietta, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and chamber orchestras in Norway, Sweden and Switzerland commissioned the award-winning 25-minute concerto for cello and orchestra, performed by German cellist Alban Gerhardt and the French National Orchestra in Premiered at the Radio France Concert Hall in 2020. According to Anderson, he dedicated this concerto to Gerhardt in recognition of his special qualities as a cellist.

“That piece explores virtually every sound a cello and orchestra can produce together,” explained Marc Satterwhite, Grawemeyer Music Award Director. “It spans a wide emotional range and is constantly inventive, but always towards an expressive ending, never for the sake of novelty .”

The 55 year old Anderson Already at the beginning of his career he studied with John Lambert, Alexander Goehr and Tristan Murail. The Boston Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra have commissioned his work, and ensembles across Europe and the United States have performed his most-performed pieces, “Khorovod” and “Alhambra Fantasy.” His work “Exiles”, which he composed for voice and orchestra in 2021, was premiered in Berlin in April.

Anderson has been Professor of Composition and Composer in Residence at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London since 2007 and also teaches music composition at Harvard University and the Royal College of Music. In 2021 he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to music.

Schott Music Ltd. publishes his compositions written since mid-2014, and Faber Music the ones written before.

The award winners Grawemeyer Awards for the next year will be named this week after formal approval by the university board of trustees. The annual $100,000 awards also honor pioneering ideas in the fields of world order, psychology, education, and religion. The award winners will visit Louisville in the spring to receive their awards and give free presentations on their winning ideas.

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