Salonen Concerto Wins Grawemeyer Music Award

By University Of Louisville, PRNE
Saturday, November 26, 2011

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky, November 28, 2011 -

“Violin Concerto,” a piece by Finnish composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, has won the 2012 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition.

The four-movement, half-hour concerto begins with a solitary violin, moves on to embrace a series of themes ranging from a quiet heartbeat to urban pop music and ends on a chord unlike any other in the work, said award director Marc Satterwhite.

“The piece is eclectic in its influences but has a distinct personality all its own,” he said.

Salonen, 53, principal conductor and artistic advisor for the Philharmonia Orchestra of London, was music director for the Los Angeles Philharmonic for 17 years. He conducted the first performance of “Violin Concerto” himself at one of his final concerts with the Los Angeles orchestra in 2009.

Leila Josefowicz, an American violinist known for championing new music, inspired Salonen’s winning work and played at its premiere. Josefowicz and the Finnish National Radio Symphony will record the piece for commercial release in May.

Salonen began conducting in 1979. He has written many orchestral works that are regularly performed and broadcast worldwide, including “LA Variations,” “Foreign Bodies,” “Wing on Wing,” “Piano Concerto” and “Nyx.”

His “Violin Concerto” was selected for the Grawemeyer Award from among 165 entries.

Salonen became music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1992. Under his 17-year leadership, the orchestra’s reputation soared as it commissioned more than 50 new works and gave 120 pieces of music their U.S. or global debuts. While there, Salonen also launched innovative collaborations such as a Stravinsky Festival in Paris in 1996 and the Tristan Project in 2007.

He was named the orchestra’s first conductor laureate after stepping down from the Los Angeles job in 2009.

Since 2003, Salonen has been artistic director of the Baltic Sea Festival, an event dedicated to promoting ecological awareness in the Baltic region that features special musical performances each year by invited orchestras, conductors and soloists.

UofL presents four Grawemeyer Awards each year for outstanding works in music composition, world order, psychology and education. The university and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary jointly give a fifth award in religion. This year’s awards are $100,000 each.

For more details on the awards see

Denise Fitzpatrick, +1-502-852-1107, +1-502-553-9792 cell, denise.fitzpatrick at

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