Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition

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The Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition ( /ˈɡrɔːm.ər/ ) is an annual prize instituted by Henry Charles Grawemeyer, industrialist and entrepreneur, at the University of Louisville in 1984. The award was first given in 1985. Subsequently, the Grawemeyer Award was expanded to other categories: Ideas Improving World Order (instituted in 1988), Education (1989), Religion (1990) and Psychology (2000). The prize fund was initially an endowment of US$9 million from the Grawemeyer Foundation. The initial awards were for $150 000 each, [1] increasing to $200 000 for the year 2000 awards. After the economic crash of 2008, the prize was reduced to $100,000. [2]


The selection process includes three panels of judges. The first is a panel of faculty from the University of Louisville, who hosts and maintains the perpetuity of the award. The second is a panel of music professionals, often involving conductors, performers, and composers (most frequently the previous winner). The final decision is made by a lay committee of new music enthusiasts who are highly knowledgeable about the state of new music. This final committee of amateurs makes the final prize determination because Grawemeyer insisted that great ideas are not exclusively the domain of academic experts.

The award has most often been awarded to large-scale works, such as symphonies, concerti, and operas. Only two Award-winning pieces (György Ligeti's Études , for piano; and Sebastian Currier's Static, for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano) do not require a conductor in performance.

Only four years have seen no prize awarded. In 1988, the second panel, consisting of professional musicians (which that year included previous winner Harrison Birtwistle) determined that no work was deserving of the award. In 1999, the awarding of the prize was moved from the fall semester to the spring semester due to the University of Louisville's bicentennial celebrations, which meant that that year's winner (Thomas Adès) was given the prize in the spring of 2000 rather than the fall of 1999. The prize has been awarded in the spring each year since.

Recipients of the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition

1985 Witold Lutosławski [3] Symphony No. 3 (1973–1983)for orchestra
1986 György Ligeti Études Book 1 (1985)for piano
1987 Harrison Birtwistle The Mask of Orpheus (1984)opera
1988not awarded [4]
1989 Chinary Ung Inner Voices (1986)for orchestra
1990 Joan Tower Silver Ladders (1986)for orchestra
1991 John Corigliano Symphony No. 1 (1988)for orchestra
1992 Krzysztof Penderecki Symphony No. 4 "Adagio" (1989)for large orchestra
1993 Karel Husa Concerto for Cello and Orchestra (1988)
1994 Toru Takemitsu Fantasma/Cantos (1991)for clarinet and orchestra
1995 John Adams Violin Concerto (1993)
1996 Ivan Tcherepnin Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra (1995)
1997 Simon Bainbridge Ad Ora Incerta – Four Orchestral Songs from Primo Levi (1994)for mezzo-soprano, bassoon and orchestra; poems by Primo Levi
1998 Tan Dun Marco Polo (1995)opera
1999not awarded
2000 Thomas Adès Asyla , Op. 17 (1997)for orchestra
2001 Pierre Boulez Sur Incises (1996–1998)for 3 pianos, 3 harps and 3 mallet instruments
2002 Aaron Jay Kernis Colored Field (1994/2000)for cello and orchestra
2003 Kaija Saariaho L'Amour de loin (2000)opera
2004 Unsuk Chin [5] Violin Concerto (2001)
2005 George Tsontakis [6] Violin Concerto No. 2 (2003)
2006 György Kurtág [7] ...Concertante..., Op. 42 (2003)for violin, viola and orchestra
2007 Sebastian Currier Static (2003)for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano
2008 Peter Lieberson [8] Neruda Songs (2005)song-cycle for mezzo-soprano and orchestra; poems by Pablo Neruda
2009 Brett Dean The Lost Art of Letter Writing (2006)violin concerto
2010 York Höller Sphären (2001–2006)for orchestra
2011 Louis Andriessen [2] [9] La Commedia (2004–2008)multimedia opera based on Dante's The Divine Comedy
2012 Esa-Pekka Salonen Violin Concerto (2008–2009)
2013 Michel van der Aa Up-Close, Concerto (2010)for cello, string ensemble and film
2014 Đuro Živković On the Guarding of the Heart (2011)for chamber orchestra
2015not awarded [10]
2016 Hans Abrahamsen let me tell you (2013)for soprano and orchestra
2017 Andrew Norman [11] [12] Play (2013/2016)for orchestra
2018 Bent Sørensen L'isola della Città (2016)for violin, cello, piano and orchestra
2019 Joël Bons Nomaden (2016) [13] for cello solo with multinational instrumental ensemble
2020not awarded [14]
2021 Lei Liang A Thousand Mountains, A Million Streams (2017)for orchestra
2022 Olga Neuwirth Orlando (2019)opera based on the novel by Virginia Woolf
2023 Julian Anderson Litanies (2018)concerto for cello and orchestra

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