Honoree To Share Proceeds of Prize with Three Composers Who Will Receive Commissions from the New York Philharmonic

PARIS (December 7, 2011) — The inaugural Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music at the New York Philharmonic was awarded to the eminent French composer Henri Dutilleux at a ceremony held here today at the Hotel Plaza Athénée. The honor recognizes a composer for extraordinary artistic endeavor in the field of new music. Mr. Dutilleux was selected to receive the Kravis Prize by a Selection Committee of leading artists and administrators who have close ties to the New York Philharmonic and a demonstrated interest in fostering new music, for his lasting contributions to the symphony orchestra repertoire.

To mark the inaugural year of the prize, Henri Dutilleux will share the proceeds with three other composers, whom the New York Philharmonic will select with his assistance, each of whom will write a work to be performed by the Orchestra in his honor. Their names and the performance dates will be announced at a later date.

On behalf of the Committee, Music Director Alan Gilbert commented: “It has been a privilege and a challenge to select the recipient of the inaugural Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music at the New York Philharmonic. It offers us an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the vital work of today’s composers, whom we consider to be true heroes. The criterion is that of ‘extraordinary artistic endeavor in the field of new music.’ Despite the presence of many important compositional voices today, the committee unanimously decided upon the first honoree: Henri Dutilleux, one of the greatest composers of our time. His music is marked by a remarkable degree of beauty as well as precision, and it is no wonder that it has become an essential part of the modern orchestral repertoire. The committee congratulates Henri Dutilleux on his decision to share the proceeds of his prize with three younger composers, whom the New York Philharmonic will select with his assistance to write works to be performed by the Orchestra. This gracious act helps foster young talent and further magnifies the attention on new music that the Kravis Prize was established to create. Lastly, the committee would also like to express its appreciation and admiration of the commitment of Henry and Marie-Josée Kravis to music in general, and to new music in particular. Their remarkably generous gift has made it possible to celebrate the richness of today’s compositional work.”

Upon learning that he was the first recipient of this prestigious award, Mr. Dutilleux said (translated from French): “Oh, my God! I am moved and touched by this news, and coming from New York — what can I say? It’s just heaven! I’m bowled over to have been specially chosen. I also want to thank Mr. and Mrs. Kravis, and give them all my best wishes.”

The Kravis Prize is to be awarded every two years, and each honoree is to receive a cash grant of $200,000 and a commission to write a work for the New York Philharmonic. In alternating years, when no prize is given, an emerging composer will receive a $50,000 stipend to commission a work for the Orchestra. The combined honor, which totals $250,000, amounts to one of the world’s largest new-music prizes. This year Mr. Dutilleux will share the proceeds with three composers whom the New York Philharmonic will select with his assistance, each of whom will write a work to be performed by the Orchestra in his honor (in lieu of a new work by Mr. Dutilleux).

Funding for the Kravis Prize 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.

New York Philharmonic President and Executive Director Zarin Mehta remarked, “Throughout its long history, the New York Philharmonic has nurtured the creation of new works through commissions and premieres; many of those pieces are now beloved masterpieces of the repertoire. This generous prize, named to honor a woman who has been a great friend to new music and the Philharmonic, will enable the Orchestra to carry forward and expand that tradition, providing our audiences with thrilling discoveries, our musicians with stimulating challenges, and the world with a body of music that is sure to stand the test of time.”

Mrs. Kravis thanked the committee members and congratulated them on their choice, saying: “This prize rewards outstanding achievement in composition of new works. Henri Dutilleux’s body of work produced over a long and distinguished career certainly exemplifies excellence. By agreeing to share his prize, he has demonstrated that he is not only a great artist, but a supremely generous one who cares deeply about building an ongoing musical legacy. I couldn’t be more pleased.”

In honor of the inaugural recipient of the Kravis Prize for New Music, New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert will conduct the Orchestra in an all-Dutilleux concert, on June 26, 2012 in Avery Fisher Hall. The New York Philharmonic has performed nine of Mr. Dutilleux’s works throughout its history, beginning with the Symphony No. 1, in 1957, through a performance of Métaboles led by Alan Gilbert in September 2010.

The Selection Committee for the Kravis Prize for New Music comprises leading artists and administrators who have close ties to the New York Philharmonic and a demonstrated interest in fostering new music. The committee members are Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert; pianist Emanuel Ax, who was named an Honorary Member of the Philharmonic-Symphony Society of New York in April 2011; Ara Guzelimian, provost and dean of The Juilliard School; Magnus Lindberg, the Philharmonic’s current Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence; violinist Midori, whose career began with the New York Philharmonic in 1982 and who regularly commissions and performs new repertoire for the violin by composers of today; Eric Montalbetti, artistic director, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France; and soprano Dawn Upshaw, who has premiered dozens of works written for her by many of today’s most prominent living composers and has appeared with the Philharmonic 14 times since her debut in 1991.

Henri Dutilleux is widely acknowledged as one of the 20th century’s important composers. Born in Angers, France, in 1916, his musical ability was recognized and nurtured early on by his grandfather, the organist and composer Julien Koszul, who was director of the conservatory at nearby Roubaix and an associate of Gabriel Fauré. As a child, Mr. Dutilleux studied at the Douai Conservatoire and later attended the Paris Conservatoire. After serving briefly as a medical orderly during the war, he 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. From 1945 to 1963 he held the post of director of music productions with the French radio company ORTF, and from 1961 to 1970 he taught composition at the École normale de musique de Paris, and then returns 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, eventually producing a body of work that is unmistakably of the 20th century, but is also uniquely his own. He achieved international recognition in 1951 with his Symphony No. 1, and he was soon receiving commissions from admiring performers and ensembles, among them cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, the Juilliard String Quartet, violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and Swiss conductor Paul Sacher. His numerous honors and prizes include 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 the MIDEM Lifetime Achievement Award (2007). In addition, he has been an honorary member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters since 1981 and is a member of the Académie Royale de Belgique.

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 eleven new works including Magnus Lindberg’s Al Largo (premiered June 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), Stephen Hartke’s Symphony No. 3 (September 2003), as well as two upcoming premieres: Aaron Jay Kernis’s a Voice, a Messenger, and Lindberg’s Piano Concerto No. 2, written for Yefim Bronfman.

 

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