Kaija Saariaho wins the 2003 Grawemeyer Award

Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho has been awarded the $200,000 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition 2003 for her opera “L`amour de loin,” (Love from afar). The opera received its premiere in Salzburg in 2000 and is based on the story of the distant love of a twelfth century troubadour for a countess whom he has never met.

On receiving the news of the award Saariaho said:
“I am very happy to receive the Grawemeyer Award. I feel honoured and very lucky to have been chosen for such a prestigious award and it is an extremely important recognition for my work. It will also help me to continue my work as a composer in good conditions. Receiving the award for my opera L'amour de loin is significant to me because with this work I stepped into a new territory, and my life and music has not been the same since. I have discovered the opera world, with all its splendour and drama, from the inside. L'amour de loin gave me the opportunity to collaborate with many exceptional people. The first person who believed in this project and helped me to realize it was Gerard Mortier, who commissioned the opera and helped me to find all the participants as the work progressed over the years. I have had a chance to work with such special artists as Amin Maalouf who wrote the libretto, Peter Sellars who directed it, the singer Dawn Upshaw and others too many to mention here. They all made it possible to realise the opera, and were at the front of my mind when I got the fantastic news that I am to be presented with the Grawemeyer Award.”

Saariaho, who celebrated her 50th birthday in 2002, studied composition at the Sibelius Academy and at the Musickhochschule in Freiburg, receiving her diploma in 1983. In 1982 she attended courses in computer music at IRCAM in Paris. Since then, the computer has been an important element of her composing technique. Saariaho joins six other composers also represented by the Music Sales Group and who have won the Grawemeyer Award: Witold Lutoslawski; Joan Tower; John Corigliano; Karel Husa; Simon Bainbridge and Tan Dun.


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