In August, we commemorate the 100th birthday of the Czech-American composer Karel Husa, and we would have loved to personally celebrate this centenary with him. Although he remained active up to a very advanced age, we had to bid him farewell only a few years ago.
Husa’s cooperation with Schott Music was focused on his early compositions, but the close association and collaborative work on the published compositions has continued to the present day.
Husa’s life, which was above all marked by World War II and its aftermath, took him to
numerous locations between Prague and the USA where he continued to work as a conductor and professor at Cornell University and Ithaca College until 1992. Husa received a
number of awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for his Third String Quartet and the Grawemeyer Award for his Cello Concerto. Additionally, Husa was prominently represented on nearly one hundred sound recordings.
According to a statement of his family, the Czech-American composer and conductor Karel Husa died at his home in Apex, NC, on 14 December 2016 at the age of 95.
The collaboration of Schott Music and Husa concentrated on his early compositions. Most of his works created before 1960 were published by Schott. But the close ties between Schott and Husa and the joint work on existing works well extended into the present.
Karel Husa was born in Prague on 7 August 1921. From 1941 to 1945 he studied composition and conducting at the Conservatoire of Prague and later at the Music Academy of Prague. From that period dates his first work Sonatina which was published by Schott in 1943. In 1946 the French government awarded him a five-year scholarship which enabled him to continue his studies with Arthur Honegger and Nadia Boulanger in Paris.
In 1949, the new Communist regime in Prague declared his passport to be invalid. Upon invitation, he was able to leave for the USA in 1954 where he taught composition both at the Cornell University in New York and at the Ithaca College New York until 1992. It was particularly his work with student orchestras that demonstrated his major talent to compose profound music which can not only be performed by top ensembles.
For his compositional oeuvre Husa received worldwide recognition and numerous awards and prizes. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his String Quartet No. 3 and the Grawemeyer Award for his Cello Concerto. His Music for Prague 1968 has become a standard work in the contemporary repertoire. In 1995 Husa was awarded the highest Order of Merit of the Czech Republic and in 1998 the Order of the City of Prague.