HUSA, KAREL (1921-2016)

Karel Husa, winner of the 1993 Grawemeyer Award and the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for Music, is an internationally known composer and conductor. An American citizen since 1959, Husa was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, on August 7, 1921. After completing studies at the Prague Conservatory and, later, the Academy of Music, he went to Paris where he received diplomas from the Paris National Conservatory and the Ecole normale de musique. Among his teachers were Arthur Honegger, Nadia Boulanger, Jaroslav Řídký, and conductor Andre Cluytens. In 1954, Husa was appointed to the faculty of Cornell University where he was Kappa Alpha Professor until his retirement in 1992. He was elected Associate Member of the Royal Belgian Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1974 and has received honorary degrees of Doctor of Music from several institutions, including Coe College, the Cleveland Institute of Music, Ithaca College, and Baldwin Wallace College.

Among numerous honors, Husa has received a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation; awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, UNESCO, and the National Endowment for the Arts; Koussevitzky Foundation commissions; the Czech Academy for the Arts and Sciences Prize; the Czech Medal of Merit, First Class, from President Vaclav Havel and the Lili Boulanger award. Recordings of his music have been issued on CBS Masterworks, Vox, Everest, Louisville, CRI, Orion, Grenadilla, and Phoenix Records, among others.

From 1954 until 1992, Husa was a professor at Cornell University, eventually holding the Kappa Alpha chair in music. Composers who studied with Husa include Steven Stucky, Christopher Rouse, John S. Hilliard, Jerry Amaldev, Christopher Kaufman, David Conte, and Byron Adams. He was also a lecturer at Ithaca College from 1967 to 1986, and served as the first Director of the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra from 1977 to 1984. Husa composed Music for Prague 1968, a work in memory of the 1968 Soviet bloc invasion of Czechoslovakia, which became one of his most celebrated compositions. His String Quartet No. 3 won the Pulitzer Prize in 1969. Husa was the 1993 recipient of the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition for his Concerto for Cello and Orchestra. He was a National Patron of Delta Omicron, an international professional music fraternity. In 2012, Husa received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Louisville. In his final years, Husa resided in Apex, North Carolina.
Husa and his wife Simone were married for 64 years. The couple had four daughters, Annette, Catherine, Elizabeth and Caroline. His widow and daughters survive him.