The Hungarian composer was honored for his Concertante for Violin, Viola, and Orchestra, Op. 42, a 2003 work first performed by the Danish Radio Orchestra.
According to the university, the 26-minute piece is written for an unusually large orchestra. "The orchestra is used to full advantage but without overshadowing the role of the soloists," said composer Marc Satterwhite, a U of L faculty member who chaired the award committee. "After ranging through many changes of mood, tempo and texture, from intimate to violent, the final section is mysterious and ambiguous."
Born in 1926 in Romania to Hungarian parents, Kurtšg studied in Budapest and Paris. His best known works include Messages of the Late Miss R V Troussova, for soprano and orchestra; Kafka Fragments, for soprano and violin; and Stele, for orchestra. Many of his works make use of improvisation and "spatial music," in which musicians are arranged throughout the performance space.
The composition prize is one of five awards given out each year by the Grawemeyer Foundation, which was created by industrialist and philanthropist Charles Grawemeyer. The others recognize achievements in education, religion, psychology, and "ideas improving world order."
Last year, the composition prize went to George Tsontakis for his Second Violin Concerto.