"I'm deeply, humbly grateful for the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition to be given to my Violin Concerto. With great pride I join the illustrious list of previous recipients, many of whom have been important influences in my life both musically and personally," says Esa-Pekka Salonen.
"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 conducted the first performance of the Violin Concerto himself at one of his final concerts with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2009. Violinist Leila Josefowicz, who inspired Salonen's work, played at its première. Josefowicz and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra will record the piece for commercial release in May.
Salonen's Violin Concerto was selected for the Grawemeyer Award from among 165 entries. The University of Louisville presents four $100,000 Grawemeyer Awards each year for outstanding works in music composition, world order, psychology and education.
Statement from Esa-Pekka Salonen:
"The initial impulse for writing a concerto for violin was a very inspiring and enjoyable collaboration with Leila Josefowicz on a number of contemporary works in Los Angeles and Chicago. She plays new music with the same kind of dedication and panache others reserve for Brahms, Beethoven and the rest of the gang.
My long and very happy tenure as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic was coming to an end. After 17 years I had decided it was time to move on and try to devote more time for composing. It felt like a seismic shift in my life, and during the composing process of the Violin Concerto I felt that I was somehow trying to sum up everything I had learned and experienced up to that point in my life as a musician. This sense of having reached a watershed was heightened by the fact that I turned 50, the kind of number that brutally wipes out any hallucinations of still being young.
There is a strong internal, private narrative in my concerto, and it is not a coincidence that the last movement is called "Adieu". For myself, the strongest symbol of what I was going through is the very last chord of the piece; a new harmonic idea never heard before in the concerto. I saw it as a door to the next part of my life of which I didn't know so much yet, a departure with all the thrills and fears of the unknown."
For more information on the award visit grawemeyer.org