Karel Husa (1921-2016)
15th December 2016
Husa was an internationally recognized composer, conductor, and educator, whose many awards include the 1993 Grawemeyer Award for his Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra and the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for his third string quartet. In 1995 he was awarded the Czech Republic’s highest civilian honor — the State Medal of Merit, First Class — which was presented to him by Czech Republic president Vaclav Havel.
Born in Prague, he became an American citizen in 1959. He taught at Cornell University from 1954 until retiring in 1992, as well as at Ithaca College from 1967 to 1986.
Husa added several important works to the repertory for concert band, most notably Music for Prague 1968, which has had thousands of performances since its 1969 premiere. It was his response to the news in August 1968: Soviet troops had invaded Czechoslovakia to crush the Prague Spring political reform movement.
Ed Matthew, Senior Promotion Manager for G. Schirmer and Associated Music Publishers, observes:
Karel was a musician for the world, tirelessly creating, teaching, conducting, and coaching, a towering yet elegant and personal man. He strove to reach many audiences and performers, particularly young musicians. We'll miss him deeply.