Jennifer Higdon Wins Pulitzer Prize for Music

Monday, April 12, 2010

Composer Jennifer Higdon won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Music for her Violin Concerto, which premiered Feb. 6, 2009, in Indianapolis. Composer Jennifer Higdon won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Music for her Violin Concerto, which premiered Feb. 6, 2009, in Indianapolis. ((Candace DiCarlo))

Composer Jennifer Higdon, 47, has won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Music for her Violin Concerto for Hilary Hahn, which was jointly commissioned by the Indianapolis Symphony, Toronto Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Curtis Institute Symphony Orchestra. The work was recorded during the 2008-09 season by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.

The award, which carries a $10,000 prize, is presented annually to a "distinguished musical composition by an American that has had its first performance or recording in the United States during the year." The citation describes the work as "a deeply engaging piece that combines flowing lyricism with dazzling virtuosity." Higdon is one of America's most frequently performed composers and the first woman to win the Pulitzer since Melinda Wagner in 1999.

Jennifer Higdon was born in Brooklyn and raised in Atlanta, GA and Seymour, TN. She studied music at Bowling Green State University (B.M. in flute performance), the University of Pennsylvania (M.A. and Ph.D. in composition) and the Curtis Institute of Music (Artist Diploma). Her principal teachers included George Crumb and Ned Rorem. At Bowling Green State University, Higdon met Robert Spano, the conductor who would promote her cause with his 2004 Telarc recording of her Concerto for Orchestra and City Scape with his Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. She has since received commissions from several important American orchestras, including the Philadelphia, Chicago Symphony, Atlanta Symphony and many others. Her works have been recorded on over two dozen CDs.

In addition to the Pulitzer, Higdon has received many awards including a Pew Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship and two awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She won a Grammy for the Telarc release of “Higdon: Concerto for Orchestra/City Scape” in 2005. Higdon is on the faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she holds the Milton L. Rock Chair in Compositional Studies.

Finalists for the Pulitzer String also included the Quartet No. 3 by Fred Lerdahl, and Steel Hammer by Julia Wolfe.

Audio: Jennifer Higdon speaks with John Schaefer on WNYC's Soundcheck about the Pulitzer.


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Comments [5]

Jonas Dastine from Brooklyn,NY

To Whom It May Concern
11/07/2010 around 9:15 a.m the Detroit Symphony performed a piece in honor of the runners/ the veterans. If it is possible, I would like to know the full details on how to get the cd and the sheet music. It was like a military march or marche militaire. I would appreciate your help.
Thanks in advance, Jonas

Nov. 19 2010 11:14 PM
Mardi-Ellen Hill from Brooklyn Heights, NY

I have not yet heard this work of Ms. Higdon, but can't wait to hear it. Having written a hidden call and response system for a family of characters in my book, THE SKELETON SCORE, I am looking forward to hearing her execution of this process in real time.
Thanks for letting us know details about this lovely composer. And yes, she is originally from Brooklyn! Brava!

May. 02 2010 09:14 PM
Harry Matthews

The recording is scheduled for release in September by Deutsche Grammaphon, according to Ms. Higdon's interview with Jon Schaefer, at the audio link above.

Higdon has released some of her music directly on the web, but Hilary Hahn has a lucrative contract with DG, so this release must make its way through traditional channels.

Apr. 14 2010 03:11 AM

I looked for a recording by Ms Hahn, I could not find one.

Apr. 13 2010 01:30 PM
Detroit Jazz Saxophonist Jeff Newton from Suburban Detroit, Michigan

Hilary Hahn and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra nailed Ms. Higdon's wonderful and astounding concerto this Winter. I particularly dug the "call and response" section, which must be (and was) played to perfection by all concerned to be effective. I'm informed by one of the DSO musicians (a friend) that the Higdon is as difficult to play as it sounds. How about a Higdon concerto for saxophone?

Apr. 12 2010 11:06 PM

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