The Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition (//) 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, increasing to $200 000 for the year 2000 awards. After the economic crash of 2008, the prize was reduced to $100,000.
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||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|
|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|
|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||Violin Concerto (2001)|
|2005||George Tsontakis||Violin Concerto No. 2 (2003)|
|2006||György Kurtág||...Concertante..., Op. 42 (2003)||for violin, viola and orchestra|
|2007||Sebastian Currier||Static (2003)||for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano|
|2008||Peter Lieberson||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||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|
|2016||Hans Abrahamsen||let me tell you (2013)||for soprano and orchestra|
|2017||Andrew Norman||Play (2013/2016)||for orchestra|
|2018||Bent Sørensen||L'isola della Città (2016)||for violin, cello, piano and orchestra|
|2019||Joël Bons||Nomaden (2016)||for cello solo with multinational instrumental ensemble|
|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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- Kramer, Elizabeth (29 November 2016). "Young composer gets Grawemeyer Award for 'Play'". The Courier-Journal. Louisville, Kentucky. p. A10. Retrieved 19 May 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
- Cooper, Michael (3 December 2018). "A Border-Crossing Work Wins One of Music's Biggest Prizes". The New York Times. New York. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
- "Music Composition". Grawemeyer Awards. Retrieved 22 October 2020.