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Karel Husa

Kappa Alpha Professor Emeritus of Music
Emeritus Professor


Composer and conductor Karel Husa served on the Cornell University faculty from 1954 until his retirement in 1992.  An American citizen since 1959, Husa was born in Prague on August 7, 1921.  He studied at the Prague Conservatory and Academy of Music, and later at the National Conservatory and Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris.  Among his teachers were Arthur Honegger, Nadia Boulanger, Jaroslav Ridky, and conductor André Cluytens.

Chief among Professor Husa’s honors are the 1969 Pulitzer Prize (for String Quartet No. 3), the 1993 Grawemeyer Award (for the Cello Concerto), and, in 1995, the Czech Republic’s highest civilian recognition, the State Medal of Merit, First Class.  He has also received nine honorary doctoral degrees and numerous other composition prizes and fellowships, from UNESCO, the Kennedy Center, the Guggenheim Foundation, and many other institutions.  Commissions have come from some of the major arts organizations in the country, including the Koussevitzky Music Foundation, the New York Philharmonic (twice), the Chicago Symphony, and many others.  As a conductor he has worked with major orchestras throughout Europe, Asia, and America, and as a guest conductor on many college campuses.  Several of his works have entered the modern repertoire, led by Music for Prague 1968 (commissioned for wind ensemble by Ithaca College and later transcribed by the composer for symphony orchestra), with over 7,000 performances to date.  Husa’s music has been frequently recorded, including releases on CBS Masterworks, Vox, Louisville, Supraphon, Phoenix, Crystal, CRI, Everest, Grenadilla, Sheffield, New World, and other labels.