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December 15   -   Norman Lebrecht - Slipped disc

America’s foremost Czech composer has died, aged 95

The death has just been reported in Prague of Karel Husa, a composer who fled his home country in 1954 and became an infuential composer in the United States. Exiled in Baltimore, Husa won the Pulitzer Prize in 1969 and the Grawemeyer in 1993. He was one of few successful composers to persist with microtonality. From an interview with Bruce Duffie: When I was 17 or 18, I went for the first time to a concert. I went to art exhibitions because I was interested in it. I had been reading poetry because I loved it. That first concert was a violin and piano recital of the Kubeliks – Jan accompanied by his son Raphael. At the time, Jan was over 60 years old, and it was an amazing experience for me to go to a concert and hear music. A week later, I bought a ticket to an orchestra. Before that, I had the impression one couldn’t go to a concert without being properly dressed, which meant having a tuxedo. I felt it was only for the highest society. But I went, and the impression I got from the music – which I didn’t understand – was overwhelming. So the purpose, I guess, is the communication. The sounds poured on me and soaked in. Then to see the players perform, that is something I have always admired. It’s something that can lift me, even at my age. I am sometimes moved to tears when I hear passages, and that is amazing.

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