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Karel Husa

Karel Husa

Country of origin: Czech Republic
Birthday: August 7, 1921
Date of death: December 14, 2016

About Karel Husa

Karel Husa was born in Prague on 7 August 1921. He studied composition and conducting in Prague and Paris. Among his teachers were Jaroslav Ridky, Arthur Honegger, Nadia Boulanger and conductor Andre Cluytens. Husa’s first internatinal success came in 1950 , when his 1st String Quartet was performed at the ISCM Festival in Brussels. His 2nd Quartet was widely perfomred by the Parrenin and Fine Arts Quartets in Europe and USA ( a.o. Edinburgh, London and Paris). The Evocations of Slovakia were introduced at the French Radio concerts in 1952, and Rafael Kubelik conducted his Divertimento for strings in Milano. In 1953 the Donaueschingen Musiktage premiered Husa’s Portrait (of Arthur Honegger) for strings with Hans Rosbaud conducting the Sudwestfunk Orchestra. In the same year Husa made a first European recording of Bartok’s suite "Miraculous Mandarin" for the French Club du Disque. In 1954 Husa was appointed to the Cornell University and later also taught at the Ithaca College. In 1959, Husa became an American citizen.

Husa guest-conducted orchestras in Europe, United States and Canada, Asia and Australia In addition to the classical repertory he introduced his own works, such as the 1st Symphony in Brussels, Paris, Zurich, Geneva, Oslo, Prague (where he made a recording with the Prague Symphony Orchestra) and numerous American cities. In 1961 he premiered his new Mosaiques (1961) in Hamburg’s cycle “Das Neue Werk”, followed by the English premiere in BBC Manchester and recording with the Stockholm Philharmonic. Hans Rosbaud and the Sudwestfunk Orchestra, Ulrich Koch, soloist introduced another new work, the Poem for viola and orchestra at the ISCM Festival in Cologne in 1961. He received honorary doctorates from many American and Czech universities and academies, among them the New England Conservatory, Cleveland Institute and Masaryk University and Academy of Musical Arts (Prague).

His works earned him numerous awards and recognition world-wide. In 1969, Husa was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his String Quartet No. 3. For his Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, Husa received the 1993 Grawemeyer Award. Further recognitions include the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Lili Boulanger Award, the Bilthoven Contemporary Music Prize, both for his 1st String Quartet, and the Sudler International Award, just to name a few. With over 7000 performances, his Music for Prague 1968 became part of the modern repertory. His works have been performed by major orchestras all over the world. In 1995, Husa was awarded the Czech Republic’s highest civilian recognition, the State Medal of Merit, First Class, and in 1998, he received the Medal of the City of Prague.