Karel Husa

Biography

Born: August 7, 1921; Prague, Czech Republic  
Karel Husa is an important composer, the bulk of whose career took place in the last half of the twentieth century. While he is generally ranked in the second tier among his contemporaries, his standing may change for the better in the coming decades. His expressive language, although sometimes employing serial techniques and other advanced methods, is far from difficult: Husa's rhythms and use of ostinatos impart sinew and drive to his music, Read more and his orchestration is always assured and colorful. Among his important compositions are his Fantasies for Orchestra (1956), Third String Quartet (1968), Music for Prague 1968, and the ballet The Trojan Women (1980-1981).

Karel Husa showed talent early in his childhood, learning to play both the violin and piano. He enrolled at the Prague Conservatory in 1939, in part to avoid being drafted into the occupying German Army. There he studied composition with Jaroslav Ridky, and conducting with Metod Dolezil and Pavel Dedecek. His Op. 1 Sonatina, for piano, dates from his student years, as well as his first big work, Overture for Large Orchestra, Op. 3.

After taking further courses with Ridky following the war, Husa traveled to Paris in 1947 to study with Arthur Honegger. He also studied composition with Nadia Boulanger and conducting with Jean Fournet. In the coming years, his career would be split equally between composing and conducting duties. His First String Quartet (1948) received the 1950 Lili Boulanger Prize and helped to establish his name internationally.

Cut off from his homeland by the Communist takeover in 1948, Husa accepted a faculty position with Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, in 1954 to teach composition and to lead the student orchestra. He also took on many guest conducting appearances with orchestras in the United States, Europe, and Asia, and accepted a post as conductor of the Ithaca Chamber Orchestra. He might have stayed in Europe a while longer, but by now he had a wife and two daughters to support. Besides, as it turned out, he found the the Cornell post was much to his liking, remaining in it until his retirement in 1992.

In 1959, Husa became an American citizen, and by that time many of his works were appearing on concert programs in his adopted country and abroad. Then-recent compositions include his Divertimento for Brass Ensemble and Percussion (1958), actually a transcription of four pieces from his 1955 Eight Czech Duos, for piano four-hands. The 1960s might have been Husa's most successful decade: in 1964 he received a Guggenheim fellowship, and five years later his Third String Quartet was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. In addition, his Music for Prague 1968 has become his most often-performed work.

Husa remained quite active in the field of composition over the next several decades, writing most of his music at a cottage he had purchased along Cayuga lake. Among his compositions from the 1970s are Two Sonnets from Michelangelo (1971) and Fresco for Wind Ensemble (1975). Some impressive commissions came in the 1980s: Concerto for Orchestra (1986) was written for Zubin Mehta and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra; and the Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra (1987-1988) met the commission of Sir Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Husa's 1993 Violin Concerto was written for another New York Philharmonic commission. In 1995, the composer received what was perhaps his most cherished honor, Czech Republic's State Medal Award of Merit, First Class, given by President Vaclav Havel. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 41 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Music Of Life
    Label: Ablaze Records   Catalog: 00008 Release Date: 10/08/2013  
    Composer:  Karel Husa
    Performer:  Paul York
    Conductor:  Kim-Cherie Lloyd
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  University Of Louisville Symphony Orchestra
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  • 2.
    2009 Wasbe: The President's Own United States Mari
    Label: Mark Records   Catalog: 5637668252 Release Date: 07/19/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Stafford Smith,  John Philip Sousa,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  George Gershwin  ... 
    Conductor:  Michael J. Colburn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  "President's Own" United States Marine Band
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  • 3.
    Label: Enharmonic Records   Catalog: 014 Release Date: 05/10/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Alfred Reed,  Joseph Canteloube,  Karel Husa  ... 
    Performer:  Kenneth Tse,  Kari Miller,  Mami Nagai,  Mariko Hattori  ... 
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  • 4.
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 261 Release Date: 09/01/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Karel Husa
    Conductor:  Karel Husa
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Symphony Orchestra,  Foerster Wind Quintet,  Paris Soloists' Orchestra
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  • 5.
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 192 Release Date: 07/01/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Karel Husa,  Herbert Haufrecht,  Walter Mourant
    Conductor:  Simon Karasick,  Frederic Balazs
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Western Brass Quintet,  New York Brass Ensemble Society,  Hamburg Symphony Orchestra
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  • 6.
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 221 Release Date: 07/01/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alan Hovhaness,  Karel Husa,  Willard Straight
    Performer:  Benita Valente
    Conductor:  Alfredo Antonini,  Karel Husa,  Russell Stanger
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bamberg Symphony Orchestra,  Stockholm Radio Symphony Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 7.
    Moving Clarinet  /  Irvin Venys, Martin Kasik
    Label: Arco Diva   Catalog: 106 Release Date: 06/15/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Josef Pálenícek,  Bohuslav Martinu,  Miloslav Istvan,  Karel Husa  ... 
    Performer:  Irvin Venys,  Martin Kasík
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  • 8.
    Wind Band Classics - Fanfares And Overtures - Schuman, Reed, Husa, Etc / Berz, Rutgers Wind Ensemble
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8572230 Release Date: 08/25/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Herbert Owen Reed,  William Schuman,  Václav Nelhybel,  Karel Husa
    Conductor:  William Berz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rutgers Wind Ensemble
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  • 9.
    2009 Midwest Clinic: Hillcrest School Wind Ensemble
    Label: Mark Records   Catalog: 8549 Release Date: 01/01/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Joseph Compello,  David Maslanka,  Scott McAllister,  Ben Aldridge  ... 
    Conductor:  Andrew Pettus
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hillcrest High School Wind Ensemble
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  • 10.
    Portrait Of Karel Husa - Works For Winds / Steele, Et Al
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 957 Release Date: 08/21/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Karel Husa
    Performer:  Momoko Gresham
    Conductor:  Stephen K. Steele
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Illinois State University Wind Symphony
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  • 11.
    WASBE 2007 Killarney, Ireland - Memories of the Emerald Isle
    Label: Mark Records   Catalog: 7225 Release Date: 01/01/2007   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  John Estacio,  Jacob De Haan,  Fergal Carroll,  Dmitri Shostakovich  ... 
    Conductor:  Geert Verschaeve,  Odd Terje Lysebo,  Phillip Scott,  Martin Bussey  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Symphonic Band Vooruit,  Nanset Wind Orchestra,  National Youth Wind Ensemble of Great Britain  ... 
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  • 12.
    Karel Husa: Trumpet Concertos / Syracuse University Wind Ensemble
    Label: Mark Masters   Catalog: 6405 Release Date: 01/01/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Karel Husa
    Performer:  Rob Parton,  John Daniel
    Conductor:  John M. Laverty
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Syracue Univerity Wind Enemble
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  • 13.
    World Premiere Collection - Corigliano, Cowell, Et Al
    Label: First Edition   Catalog: 32 Release Date: 03/01/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Roy Harris,  John Harbison,  Tobias Picker,  Joan Tower  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baltimore Symphony Orchestra,  The Louisville Orchestra,  Houston Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 14.
    The Fine Arts Quartet At Wfmt
    Label: Music & Arts Programs Of America   Catalog: 1154 Release Date: 01/25/2005   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Paul Hindemith,  Jean Martinon,  Béla Bartók,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Leonard Sorkin,  Abram Loft,  Gerald Stanick,  George Sopkin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fine Arts String Quartet
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  • 15.
    Label: Mark Records   Catalog: 5596 Release Date: 01/01/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Michael Daugherty,  Morten Lauridsen,  Bedrich Smetana,  Karel Husa  ... 
    Conductor:  Michael Haithcock,  Rodney Dorsey
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Florida All-State Bands
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  • 16.
    Karel Husa
    Label: First Edition   Catalog: 23 Release Date: 06/08/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Karel Husa
    Conductor:  Akira Endo,  Jorge Mester
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Louisville Orchestra
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  • 17.
    Karel Husa: Recollections / Quintet Of The Americas
    Label: New World Records   Catalog: 80571 Release Date: 05/25/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Karel Husa
    Performer:  Edward Gilmore,  Sato Moughalian,  Laura Koepke,  Matthew Sullivan  ... 
    Conductor:  David Gilbert
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Quintet of the Americas,  Perspectives Ensemble
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  • 18.
    Label: Mark Records   Catalog: 4742 Release Date: 01/01/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ole Schmidt,  Yngve Slettholm,  Laurence Bitensky,  Dmitri Shostakovich  ... 
    Conductor:  Odd Terje Lysebo
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nanset Wind Orchestra
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  • 19.
    Husa: Apotheosis Of This Earth / Ithaca College Wind Ensemble
    Label: Mark Masters   Catalog: 3170 Release Date: 05/15/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Karel Husa
    Conductor:  Rodney Winther
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ithaca College Wind Ensemble
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  • 20.
    Recollections / Corporon, North Texas Wind Symphony
    Label: Klavier Records   Catalog: 11124 Release Date: 04/02/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Karel Husa,  David Gillingham,  Ross Lee Finney,  Vincent Persichetti  ... 
    Conductor:  Eugene Migliaro Corporon
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  North Texas University Wind Ensemble
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  • 21.
    Visions In Metaphor / John Sampen, Marilyn Shrude
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 442 Release Date: 07/31/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Karel Husa,  Joan Tower,  Philip Glass,  Bernard Rands  ... 
    Performer:  John Sampen,  Marilyn Shrude
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  • 22.
    Compassion
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 57179 Release Date: 06/19/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Tavener,  Steve Reich,  Philip Glass,  György Kurtág  ... 
    Performer:  Ulf Hoelscher,  Susan Narucki,  Edna Michell,  Allen Ginsberg  ... 
    Conductor:  Lukas Foss,  Andreas Weiss
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra,  Karlsruhe Ensemble,  Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra cellos
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  • 23.
    Label: Mark Records   Catalog: 3682 Release Date: 01/01/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Percy Aldridge Grainger,  Karel Husa,  Antonio De Cabezón,  Vincent Persichetti  ... 
    Conductor:  Matthew Mcinturf
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sam Houston Wind Ensemble
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  • 24.
    Repertoire For Saxophone And Band Vol 2 / Pittel, University Of Texas
    Label: Mark Masters   Catalog: 3932 Release Date: 01/01/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Karel Husa,  David Maslanka
    Performer:  Harvey Pittel
    Conductor:  Jerry Junkin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  University of Texas Wind Ensemble
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  • 25.
    Label: Mark Records   Catalog: 3259 Release Date: 01/01/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Karel Husa,  Richard Wagner,  Dmitri Shostakovich  ... 
    Conductor:  Mallory Thompson,  Thomas Caneva
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Illinois Honors Band,  Illinois All State Band
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