Richard Faria

The Clarinet Studio of

Richard Faria

Professor, Performance Studies
Faculty, School of Music

Czech University to Honor Composer Karel Husa at Ithaca College

Ithaca, NY--Karel Husa, a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and one of the leading figures in 20th-century music, will receive an honorary doctor of arts degree from Masaryk University on May 12 at Ithaca College. The ceremony, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 2:00 p.m. in the recital hall of the James J. Whalen Center for Music. Jiri Zlatuska and Mikulas Bek, the president and the head of the Department of Musicology at Masaryk University, one of the Czech Republic's largest institutions of higher education, will make the presentation. Three Ithaca College faculty members--clarinetist Richard Faria, violist Debra Moree, and cellist Elizabeth Simkin--will then perform one of Husa's works, "Évocations de Slovaquie." Husa selected this piece for the occasion because the folk materials on which the composition is based come from the region in the Czech Republic where Masaryk University is located.

Husa, a native Czech, was a faculty member at Ithaca College from 1967 to 1986; in 1969 he won a Pulitzer Prize for his "String Quartet No. 3." He has also been honored by UNESCO, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. One of his best known compositions, "Music for Prague, 1968," was commissioned and first performed by the Ithaca College Concert Band, and has subsequently received over 7,000 performances worldwide. It is among the five manuscripts he has donated to the Ithaca College School of Music and which are on display in the Whalen Center's Karel Husa Gallery.

Also an accomplished conductor, Husa has led the major orchestras of Paris, London, Hamburg, Brussels, Prague, Stockholm, Oslo, Zurich, Hong Kong, Singapore, New York, and Boston. In 1995 he was awarded the Czech Republic's highest civilian honor, the State Medal of Merit, First Class, and in 1998 he received the Medal of the City of Prague. He is the Kappa Alpha Professor of Music Emeritus at Cornell University, where he taught from 1954 to 1992.

Last summer the president of Masaryk University, visiting Ithaca College to explore possible exchange programs, discovered the College's strong connection with Husa and decided an honorary doctorate from the Czech university would be a way of celebrating Husa's accomplishments. Since international travel has become difficult for Husa, the Masaryk officials are traveling to Ithaca, where he has lived since 1954, to make the presentation.

Located in Brno in the Czech Republic, Masaryk University was established in 1919. This summer the university, in collaboration with Ithaca College, will inaugurate a chamber music program designed for performers, music educators, composers, and musicologists seeking to develop stylistic understanding of the music of central European composers such as Janacek, Martinu, Bartok, Ligeti, and Kodaly. In addition to being coached in the music, participants will study the art, literature, folk traditions, languages, and cultural history in which the compositions were written.

Originally published in News Releases: Czech University to Honor Composer Karel Husa at Ithaca College.

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