Husa, Karel

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Husa, Karel

Husa, Karel, distinguished Czech-born American composer, conductor, and pedagogue; b. Prague, Aug. 7, 1921. He studied violin and piano in his youth, and concurrently took courses in engineering. In 1941 he entered the Prague Cons., studying composition with fidky. In 1945-6 he attended the Academy of Music; in 1946 he was awarded a French government grant to continue his studies in Paris at the École Normale de Musique and the Cons., where his teachers included Honegger and Boulanger. He also studied conducting with Fournet and Cluytens. In 1954 he emigrated to the U.S., and joined the music dept. of Cornell Univ. as teacher of composition and conductor of the student orch., remaining there until his retirement in 1992. He also taught at Ithaca Coll. (1967–86). He became a naturalized American citizen in 1959. He appeared widely as a guest conductor, frequently including his own music in his programs. In his early works, he followed the modern Czech school of composition, making thematic use of folk tunes; later he enlarged his musical resources to include atonal, polytonal, microtonal, and even occasional aleatory procedures, without following doctrinaire prescriptions to the letter. His music is oxygenated by humanistic Romanticism; as a result, it gains numerous performances. In 1969 Husa received the Pulitzer Prize in Music for his 3rd String Quartet. In 1974 he was elected to membership in the Royal Belgian Academy of the Arts and Sciences. He received honorary doctor of music degrees from Coe Coll. (1976), the Cleveland Inst. of Music (1985), Ithaca Coll. (1986), Baldwin-Wallace Coll. (1991), St. Vincent Coll. (1995), Hartwick Coll. (1997), and the New England Cons, of Music (1998). In 1983 he received the Friedheim Award for his Recollections for Woodwind Quintet and Piano. He received the Sudley International Award in 1984 for his Concerto for Wind Ensemble. In 1993 he received the Grawemeyer Award of the Univ. of Louisville for his Cello Concerto. He became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1994. In 1995 President Havel of the Czech Republic bestowed upon him the State Medal Award of Merit, 1st Class, and in 1998 he was awarded the Medal of the City of Prague.


dramatic: Ballet: The Steadfast Tin Soldier (1974); Monodrama (Indianapolis, March 26, 1976); The Trojan Women (Louisville, March 28, 1981).orch.: Overture (1st public perf., Prague, June 18, 1946); Sinfonietta (Prague, April 25, 1947); 3 fresques (Prague, April 27, 1949; rev. as Fresque, Syracuse, N.Y., May 5, 1963); Divertimento for Strings (Paris, Oct. 30, 1949); Piano Concertino (Brussels, June 6, 1952); Musique d’amateurs, 4 Easy Pieces for Oboe, Trumpet, Percussion, and Strings (1953); Portrait for Strings (Donaueschingen, Oct. 10, 1953); 2 syms.: No. 1 (Brussels, March 4, 1954) and No. 2, Reflections (Greensboro, N.C., July 16, 1983); 4 Little Pieces for Strings (Fürsteneck, March 17, 1957); Fantasies (Ithaca, N.Y., April 28, 1957); Divertimento for Brass and Percussion (Ithaca, N.Y., Feb. 17, 1960); Poem for Viola and Chamber Orch. (Cologne, June 12, 1960); Mosaïques (Hamburg, Nov. 7, 1961); Elégie et Rondeau for Alto Saxophone and Orch. (Ithaca, N.Y., May 6, 1962); Serenade for Woodwind Quintet Solo with Strings, Xylophone, and Harp (Baltimore, Jan. 7, 1964); Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Concert Band (Ithaca, N.Y., March 17, 1968); Music for Prague 1968 (2 versions; for Band: Washington, D.C., Jan. 31, 1969; for Orch., Munich, Jan. 31, 1970; 1st Czech perf. of orch. version, Prague, Feb. 13, 1990, composer conducting); Concerto for Brass Quintet and Strings (Buffalo, Feb. 15, 1970); Concerto for Percussion and Wind Instruments (1971; Waco, Tex., Feb. 7, 1972); Apotheosis of This Earth for Wind Instruments (Ann Arbor, April 1, 1971; 2nd version for Chorus and Orch.: Ithaca, N.Y., April 12, 1973); 2 Sonnets from Michelangelo (Evan-ston, 111., April 28, 1972); Trumpet Concerto (Storrs, Conn., Aug. 9, 1974); Pastoral for Strings (Miami Beach, April 12, 1980); Fanfare for Brass (1981); Concerto for Wind Ensemble (Lansing, Mich., Dec. 3, 1982); Smetana Fanfare for Wind Ensemble (San Diego, April 3, 1984); Symphonic Suite (Athens, Ga., Oct. 1, 1984); Concerto for Orchestra (N.Y., Sept. 25, 1986); Organ Concerto, The Sunlights (Cleveland, Oct. 28, 1987); Trumpet Concerto (Chicago, Feb. 11, 1988); Cello Concerto (1988; Los Angeles, March 2, 1989); Overture: Youth (Seattle, Dec. 1, 1991); Cayuga Lake: Memories for Chamber Orch. (1992); Violin Concerto (N.Y., May 27, 1993); Celebration Fanfare (Oneonta, N.Y, July 7, 1996); Les couleurs fauves for Wind Ensemble (Evanston, III., Nov. 16, 1996); Midwest Celebration (Chicago, Dec. 17, 1996); Celebración (1997).CHAMBER: String Quartet (1942–13); Sonatina for Violin and Piano (Prague, Sept. 27, 1945); Suite for Viola and Piano (1945); 4 numbered string quartets: No. 1 (Prague, May 23, 1948), No. 2 (Paris, Oct. 23, 1954), No. 3 (Chicago, Oct. 14, 1968), and No. 4 (1989–90); Evocations of Slovakia for Clarinet, Viola, and Cello (Paris, May 4, 1952); 2 Preludes for Flute, Clarinet, and Bassoon (Ithaca, N.Y, April 21, 1966); Divertimento for Brass Quintet (Ithaca, N.Y, Nov. 20, 1968); Studies for Percussion (1968); Violin Sonata (N.Y., March 31, 1974); Landscapes for Brass Quintet (Kalamazoo, Mich., Oct. 17, 1977); 3 Dance Sketches for Percussion (Miami Beach, April 12, 1980); Intradas and Interludes for 7 Trumpets and Timpani (Columbus, Ohio, June 20, 1980); Sonata a tre for Violin, Clarinet, and Piano (Hong Kong, March 23, 1982); Recollections for Woodwind Quintet and Piano (Washington, D.C., Oct. 28, 1982); Variations for Violin, Viola, Cello, and Piano (Atlanta, May 20, 1984); Intrada for Brass Quintet (Baltimore, Nov. 15, 1984); 5 Poems for Woodwind Quintet (1994; N.Y, Feb. 10, 1995).Piano: Sonatina (1943); 2 sonatas (1950, 1975); Elegie (1957).VOCAL: 12 Moravian Songs for Voice and Piano (1956); Festive Ode for Chorus and Orch. or Band (1965); The Steadfast Tin Soldier for Narrator and Orch. (Boulder, Colo., May 10, 1975); An American Te Deum for Baritone, Chorus, and Wind Ensemble (Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Dec. 4, 1976; 2nd version for Baritone, Chorus, and Orch., Washington, D.C., May 10, 1978); 3 Moravian Songs for Chorus (1981); Every Day for Chorus (1981); There are from time to time mornings for Chorus (1981); Cantata for Men’s Chorus and Brass Quintet (Crawfordsville, Ind., April 20, 1983).editions: W. Herschel’s Sym. in D (1962); Lully’s Carnaval Mascarade for Orch. (1964) and Le Ballet des Muses for Orch. (1965); Dalalande’s Cantemus Domino for Soli, Chorus, and Orch.


S. Hitchens, K. H.: A Bio-Bibliography (N.Y., 1991).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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