German composer York Höller has been awarded the 2010 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition for his six-movement orchestral work Sphären (Spheres).
Given “in recognition of outstanding achievement by a living composer in a large musical genre” by the University of Louisville, the annual prize is worth $200,000 to the winner.
The list of past recipients includes some of the leading names in contemporary composition. The first winner, in 1985, was Witold Lutoslawski for his Third Symphony. Other recipients have included György Ligeti, Harrison Birtwistle, John Adams, Tan Dun, Thomas Adès, Pierre Boulez and Kaija Saariaho.
Höller's Sphären, chosen from among 136 entries, is a 40-minute piece and described as being inspired by literature, music of the past and the elements of air, water, earth and fire from Greek philosophy. It was composed between 2001 and 2006, and the premiere was given last year by the Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra under conductor Semyon Bychkov.
Höller's works, which include an opera and electronic compositions, have been performed by ensembles including the Chicago Symphony, the Berlin Philharmonic, Ensemble InterContemporain, Ensemble Modern, Arditti Quartet and the London Sinfonietta.
Sphären is due for release by German label NEOS in April.
For more information about York Höller, visit his page at Boosey & Hawkes.
(Photograph by Hanne Engwald)