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The Marie-Josée Kravis Prize

Kravis Prize
Anna Thorvaldsdottir

During the CONTACT! concert on June 5, 2015, the New York Philharmonic announced that Anna Thorvaldsdottir would be the second Kravis Emerging Composer, bestowed on an up-and-coming composer as part of The Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music. Ms. Thorvaldsdottir will receive a $50,000 stipend, including a commission to compose a work for the Philharmonic to premiere in a future season, and the Orchestra will perform other music by her in upcoming seasons. She succeeds Sean Shepherd, who was named the inaugural Kravis Emerging Composer in June 2012, and whose tenure included composing Songs for the Philharmonic, which premiered the work in June 2014.

“Anna Thovaldsdottir has one of the most unique and expressive voices in the compositional scene today,” said Music Director Alan Gilbert. “Her uncompromising approach to building soundscapes creates a visceral, pictorial aesthetic that is deeply connected to her Icelandic heritage. It is thrilling to be able to present her with this platform that will allow her music to be even better known in New York. This is the very purpose for which we created the position of the Kravis Emerging Composer.”

“I am grateful for the vision and generosity of Henry and Marie-Josée Kravis in helping us create the position of the Kravis Emerging Composer, as well as The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence, and to establish the Kravis Prize for New Music,” said President Matthew VanBesien. “They have made it possible for the New York Philharmonic to sustain a core aspect of our mission: to support the music of our time, a crucial element of what it means to be a 21st-century orchestra.”

“I am incredibly honored and grateful to be named the New York Philharmonic’s Kravis Emerging Composer,” said Anna Thorvaldsdottir. “Writing for orchestra constitutes such a fundamental part of my voice as a composer, and I am deeply looking forward to working on this commission for them. It is a wonderful privilege to take part in this way in the New York Philharmonic’s important contribution to new music.”

Composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir frequently works with large sonic structures that tend to reveal the presence of a vast variety of sustained sound materials, reflecting her sense of imaginative listening to landscapes and nature. Her music portrays a flowing world of sounds with an enigmatic lyrical atmosphere. Ms. Thorvaldsdottir’s compositions are performed internationally, including at major venues and music festivals such as Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, the Composer Portraits Series at the Miller Theatre at Columbia University, ISCM World Music Days, Nordic Music Days, Ultima Festival, Klangspuren Festival, Beijing Modern Music Festival, Reykjavik Arts Festival, Tectonics, and the Kennedy Center. Many of her works have been nominated for and received honors; most notably, she is the recipient of the prestigious Nordic Council Music Prize 2012 for her work Dreaming. Some of the orchestras and ensembles that Ms. Thorvaldsdottir has worked with include International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), BIT20, Musiques Nouvelles, Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Yarn/Wire, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, CAPUT Ensemble, Oslo Philharmonic, and Either/Or Ensemble. Her well-received debut album, Rhízōma, was released in October 2011 through Innova Recordings and appeared on a number of “Best of 2011” lists, including in Time Out New York and Time Out Chicago. Ms. Thorvaldsdottir’s new album, Aerial, was released by Deutsche Grammophon / Universal Music Classics in November 2014 and appeared on a number of year-end lists, including The New Yorker, Boston Globe, iTunes Classical, and WQXR’s Q2. She received a Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego. When not engaged in music-related activities, she may be found doing yoga or walking in nature, seeking inspiration for music and life. Anna Thorvaldsdottir is married to Hrafn Ásgeirsson, Ph.D. in philosophy, avant-garde saxophone player, and recreational photographer.

Funding for the Kravis Prize for New Music comes from a $10 million gift given to the New York Philharmonic in 2009 by Henry R. Kravis in honor of his wife, Marie-Josée, for whom the prize is named. The inaugural Kravis Prize was awarded in the 2011–12 season to Henri Dutilleux (1916–2013), who shared the proceeds of the Prize with three composers — Anthony Cheung, Franck Krawczyk, and Peter Eötvös — each of whom would write a work for the Orchestra to premiere. Sean Shepherd was named the 2012 Kravis Emerging Composer. The New York Philharmonic gave the World Premieres of Anthony Cheung’s Lyra and Sean Shepherd’s Songs June 11–21, 2014; Mr. Eötvös’s Senza sangue received its World Premiere in Cologne, Germany, on the Orchestra’s EUROPE / SPRING 2015 tour, and its U.S. Premiere in New York City May 8–9, 2015.

The Selection Committee for the Kravis Prize for New Music includes Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert; Christopher Rouse, The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence at the New York Philharmonic, 2012–15; composer/conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen; Nicholas Kenyon, managing director, Barbican Centre, London; Ara Guzelimian, provost and dean of The Juilliard School; and Daniel Druckman, New York Philharmonic Associate Principal Percussion.

Henry and Marie-Josée Kravis have long been generous supporters of new music at the New York Philharmonic. In 2009 they made a gift of $10 million to the Orchestra, endowing both The Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music at the New York Philharmonic and the Composer-in-Residence position. Throughout their decade-long relationship with the Philharmonic, they have commissioned 17 new compositions including a new work by Franck Krawczyk (to be premiered in April 2016); Peter Eötvös’s Senza sangue (May 2015); Christopher Rouse’s Thunderstuck (October 2014); Sean Shepherd’s Songs (June 2014); Anthony Cheung’s Lyra (June 2014); Christopher Rouse’s Symphony No. 4 (June 2014) and Prospero’s Rooms (April 2013); Magnus Lindberg’s Piano Concerto No. 2, written for Yefim Bronfman (May 2012), Al Largo (June 2010), Souvenir (in memorium Gérard Grisey) (November 2010), and EXPO (September 2009); Peter Lieberson’s The World in Flower (May 2009); Marc Neikrug’s Quintessence (March 2008); Bernard Rands Chains Like the Sea (October 2008); Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Piano Concerto (February 2007); Augusta Read Thomas’s Gathering Paradise, Emily Dickinson Settings for Soprano and Orchestra (September 2004); and Stephen Hartke’s Symphony No. 3 (September 2003).

Per Norgard

During the concert on June 11, 2014, Music Director Alan Gilbert took the stage to announce the recipient of The Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music at the New York Philharmonic: Per Nørgård. The honor recognizes a composer for extraordinary artistic endeavor in the field of new music, and is one of the world’s largest new-music prizes, consisting of $200,000 and a commission to compose a work for the New York Philharmonic. On behalf of the Selection Committee, Mr. Gilbert said:

“It has been a pleasure and an honor for us to bestow Per Nørgård with The Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music at the New York Philharmonic, given to a composer for extraordinary artistic endeavor in the field of new music. Today there is a great variety of important compositional voices, and the committee enjoyed exploring the sounds and contributions of a wide range of creators. Nevertheless, our decision was unanimous.

Per Nørgård, one of the grand figures in Scandinavian music, stands out among the general field of international contemporary music. His compositions couple intellectual rigor with expressive urgency, and span a wide variety of genres, with eight symphonies, several concertos, six operas, and two ballets among his orchestra scores alone. The power of his expression has also crossed media, leading to the creation of evocative and masterful film scores. It has been fascinating to trace the unique path he has forged, which has included his invention of the Infinity Series — his own fresh approach to serialism.

Nørgård’s oeuvre embodies the curiosity, drive, and inspiration that we wanted to support through this prize, made possible by the generosity and commitment of Henry R. and Marie-Josée Kravis. We salute them for their vision, which has allowed us to shine a spotlight on today’s composers, celebrating their courage and imagination in establishing new sounds and vocabularies that enrich our lives.”

The New York Philharmonic will give the U.S. Premiere of Mr. Nørgård’s Symphony No. 3 in 2016 during the second NY PHIL BIENNIAL. This follows a performance by Philharmonic musicians of Mr. Nørgård’s music on CONTACT!, the Philharmonic’s new-music series, in a program featuring contemporary Nordic composers, March 7, 2015, conducted by Music Director Alan Gilbert at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The inaugural Kravis Prize was awarded in the 2011–12 season to Henri Dutilleux (1916–2013), who shared the proceeds of the Prize with three composers – Anthony Cheung, Franck Krawczyk, and Peter Eötvös – each of whom would write a work for the Orchestra to premiere. Sean Shepherd was named the 2012 Kravis Emerging Composer. The New York Philharmonic gives the World Premieres of Anthony Cheung’s Lyra June 11–14, 2014, and Sean Shepherd’s Songs June 18–21, 2014; The final work created by Dutilleux’s generosity, by Frank Krawcyck, will be premiered April 27–30, 2016.

Per Norgard

Per Nørgård is considered by many to be the most prominent Danish composer after Carl Nielsen. At the age of 17 he began studying composition with Vagn Holmboe, and from 1952 through 1957 he studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Music and with Nadia Boulanger. In the 1960s Per Nørgård developed the Infinity Series, a principle in which new intervals are created ad infinitum, which he used in his 1968 composition Voyage into the Golden Screen for chamber orchestra; his use of this system culminated in his Symphony No. 3 (1972). Mr. Nørgård’s subsequent encounter with the work of Swiss artist and schizophrenic Adolf Wölfli is evident in his Symphony No. 4, Indian Rose Garden and Chinese Witch Sea  (1981), and his opera The Divine Circus (1982). In his Viola Concerto Remembering Child (1986) — commissioned by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, which premiered it with Pinchas Zukerman, its dedicatee, as soloist — and Violin Concerto Helle Nacht (1988), Mr. Nørgård continued his exploration of the stratification of time in a tempo-scanning of the melodies where accentuation, meter, and beat reveal new melodies within melodies. His later works border on the surrealistic, notably his Piano Concerto Concerto in Due Tempi (1995), which was premiered in 1996 at the ceremony awarding Mr. Nørgård the Léonie Sonning Music Prize. His Symphony No. 8 was commissioned and premiered by the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra in 2012. Per Nørgård has also composed scores for several films, including Babette’s Feast (1987). He collaborated with Ane Dorthe Roel on the 2006 book Nye aspekter i uendelighedsrækken (New Aspects of the Infinity Series) on her discoveries in the Infinity Series. Today, he is traveling with a select group of collaborators and composing for harp, percussion, violin, cello, and piano; his catalog now surpasses 400 works in total. Per Nørgård taught at the Royal Academy of Music, Aarhus, from 1965 through 1995, becoming a professor in 1987. In 2009 he was portrayed in Martin Verdet’s music documentary Timeless Harvest. He was awarded the Carl Nielsen Prize in 1969 and 2002, and The Nordic Council Music Prize in 1974. From 1975 until 1982 he served as chairman of the Danish Composers’ Society.

Henri Dutilleux and Alan Gilbert
Henri Dutilleux and Alan Gilbert in December 2011

On December 7, 2011, Alan Gilbert named HENRI DUTILLEUX the inaugural recipient of The Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music at the New York Philharmonic, a prize awarded every two years in recognition of extraordinary artistic endeavor in the field of new music. Mr. Dutilleux made the generous decision to share the proceeds of his prize with Peter Eötvös, Anthony Cheung, and Franck Krawczyk, each of whom would write a work to be performed by the Orchestra in his honor. Mr. Cheung’s resulting work, Lyra, was being premiered June 11–14, 2014; Mr. Eötvös’s Senza sangue will received its World Premiere in Cologne, Germany, on the Orchestra’s EUROPE / SPRING 2015 tour, and its U.S. Premiere in New York City May 8–9, 2015. Mr. Krawcyck’s work will be premiered April 27–30, 2016.

Henri Dutilleux (1916–2013) is widely acknowledged as one of the 20th century’s important composers. His early musical ability was nurtured by his grandfather, the organist and composer Julien Koszul, who was director of the conservatory at nearby Roubaix and a classmate and friend of Gabriel Fauré. After studying piano, harmony, and counterpoint with Victor Gallois at the Douai Conservatoire Dutilleux attended the Paris Conservatoire, 1933–38, studying harmony and counterpoint with Jean and Noël Gallon, composition with Henri Paul Busser, and music history with Maurice Emmanuel. After serving briefly as a medical orderly during World War II, Dutilleux returned to Paris in 1940 where he earned a living as a pianist, arranger, and teacher before becoming choral director at the Paris Opéra in 1942. He held the post of director of music productions with the French radio company ORTF (1945–63) and taught composition at the École Normale de Musique de Paris (1961–70), after which he returned to the Paris Conservatoire for two years as a guest professor.

Soon after completing his conservatory training, Henri Dutilleux began a decades-long search for his own authentic compositional voice, later renouncing all of the pieces that predate the Piano Sonata (1946–48), written for his then-new wife, the pianist Genevieve Joy. He achieved international recognition in 1951 with his Symphony No. 1, and soon begin receiving commissions from the likes of cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, Juilliard String Quartet, violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, Boston Symphony Orchestra, and Swiss conductor Paul Sacher. Many of these works — such as the string quartet Ainsi la nuit (1977), and the orchestral pieces The Shadows of Time (1997) and Métaboles (1964) — are regarded as masterworks of Western literature.


In addition to the Kravis Prize for New Music, Dutilleux’s numerous honors and prizes included the Grand Prix de Rome (1938), French Grand Prix National de la Musique (1967), Praemium Imperiale (1994), Cannes Classical Award (1999), Grand Prix 1999 de la Presse Musicale Internationale, Ernst von Siemens Music Award (2005), and MIDEM Lifetime Achievement Award (2007). He was an honorary member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and a member of the Académie Royale de Belgique.


Henri Dutilleux: Complete Works

Alan Gilbert Bestowing the Prize on Per Nørgård, June 11, 2014

Per Nørgård on His Music and Influences

World Premiere of Peter Eötvös's Senza sangue

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