University of Louisville Announces 2014 $100K Grawemeyer Music Prize

University of Louisville Announces 2014 $100K Grawemeyer Music Prize

Djuro Zivkovic

Djuro Zivkovic, photo courtesy University of Louisville

Serbian-born, Stockholm-based composer Djuro Zivkovic’s On the Guarding of the Heart has been awarded the 2014 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition. Zivkovic (b1975), who has describes On the Guarding of the Heart as an “instrumental cantata” inspired by the religious music of Bach, claims that the composition is “about hard-achieved detachment, stillness and watchfulness … solitude and exile.” According to award director Marc Satterwhite, the 20-minute work scored for a 14-piece chamber orchestra “makes a huge emotional journey in a relatively short period of time, moving through many landscapes between the mysterious, moody opening and the ecstatic conclusion. The instruments are used in fascinating ways, both traditional and otherwise … that shape the sound of unnatural, echoing beauty.”

Born in Belgrade in 1975, Zivkovic has lived in Stockholm, Sweden, since 2000. He is active as a violinist and violist—with a special interest in improvisation—and teaches at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. The Austrian ensemble Klangforum Wien gave the first performance of On the Guarding of the Heart in November 2011 in Belgrade. The piece also has been performed in Vienna and Bergen.


The Grawemeyer Award

The University of Louisville presents four Grawemeyer Awards each year for outstanding works in music composition, world order, psychology and education. The university and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary jointly give a fifth award in religion. This year’s awards are $100,000 each. Previous winners of the award for music composition include John Adams, Louis Andriessen, John Corigliano, Sebastian Currier, Aaron Jay Kernis, Peter Lieberson, Gyorgy Ligeti, Witold Lutoslawski, Kaija Saariaho, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Tan Dun, Joan Tower, and George Tsontakis.

from the press release

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One thought on “University of Louisville Announces 2014 $100K Grawemeyer Music Prize

  1. John Borstlap

    The winning piece can be listened to at Norman Lebrecht’s site ‘Slipped Disc’. It is a fine sonic work, using scoring techniques as developed since the fifties (including the boulezbian variety), where all interest and effort goes into the surface of the sound. (Why Norman refers to Mahler’s Second is a great mystery.) With every work of art, we should ask ourselves: ‘what does it say?’ The movie which goes with the recording, is quite appropriate: this work is about how it feels in your space capsule, floating between the planets, very, very far away from any human presence. It is the universe as seen without any meaning, without any order: the emptiness and timelessness of space. But interestingly, there are snippets of music sprinkled over the score, like reminiscences of human civilization, now very far in the distance – but remembered, like things are sometimes remembered in dreams: fragmented, chaotic, meaningless, like a veil of nonsense covering ‘the real thing’ that is out of reach. We are very far from planet earth. But gradually the piece focusses upon a fifth and octave, the most tonal combination in music – like a child, clinging to the leg of a table the surface of which it cannot reach. In this sense, the piece appropriately and metaphorically ‘describes’ the situation of people, musically gifted but developing within the sphere of conventional modernism, which has created a mental space of its own separate from classical music. Something like a musical impulse seems to try to escape from this inhibition, which is confirmed in the composer’s biography as presented on his website:

    “His interest in the harmonic organization (after the year 2002) has resulted in a new approach to his composition process. Živković finds importance in the so-called harmonic field, the way that chords exist in coherence or in symbiosis with themselves, thus creating the harmonic path.”

    Translated from the modernist jargon, this means that the composer begins to realize that there exists something like harmonic organization, where combinations of notes form a bedding through which a musical narrative can flow. The tragic alienation of young sonic artists from music, the common art form existing since late medieval times, and as it is still much alive in the central performance culture, could not be better formulated.


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