The Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition

Steve Reich

2016 Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition Prize

Steve Reich

Steve Reich and Musicians

For his wide-reaching impact on contemporary musical composition, particularly through his use of human voices and speech to produce material for musical instruments.

American composer Steve Reich is widely regarded as influencing the trajectory of contemporary music. He is known for his minimalist compositions, and original use of phasing, historical themes, and instrumental music influenced by human voices and speech. More »

Esa-Pekka Salonen

2014 Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition Prize

Esa-Pekka Salonen

London Philharmonia Orchestra

For his musicianship and insight, both as a composer and conductor.

Salonen is a world-renowned conductor and one of today's leading composers. Trained as a European modernist, Salonen composes works that move freely between contemporary idioms, combining intricacy and technical virtuosity with playful rhythmic and melodic innovations. More »

Aaron Jay Kernis

2012 Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition Prize

Aaron Jay Kernis

Yale University School of Music

For critically acclaimed compositions marked by their wide-ranging imagination and visceral emotional power.

American composer Aaron Jay Kernis' compositions have garnered significant critical acclaim for their wide-ranging imagination and visceral emotional power. Committed to expressing a creative vision that, as he says, "carries with it the present, past and future at all times," Kernis draws from a vast array of musical and extra-musical influences that includes classical composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach and Claude Debussy, the poetry of Gertrude Stein, spiritual writing and popular musical forms such as salsa and hip-hop. More »

John Luther Adams

2010 Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition Prize

John Luther Adams

For melding the physical and musical worlds into a unique artistic vision that transcends stylistic boundaries.

American composer John Luther Adams came to music as a rock drummer. Through a youthful passion for the music of Frank Zappa he became acquainted with the works of Edgar Varese and Morton Feldman, then went on to study composition at the California Institute of the Arts. Adams’ music is deeply rooted in the geography and cultures of Alaska. His experience as a percussionist and his study of Alaska Native drumming can be heard in the rhythmic intricacy of his music. More »

Kaija Saariaho

2008 Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition Prize

Kaija Saariaho

For transforming avant-garde techniques into a world of luminous, shifting color and emotional depth, mirroring the human experience

Although born in Finland, Kaija Saariaho lives and works in Paris with the French "spectralist" composers whose techniques are based on computer analysis of the sound spectrum of individual notes on different instruments. She has developed techniques of computer-assisted composition and is adept at working on tape and with live electronics. Saariaho has composed more than 80 works in every genre and has enjoyed particular success with large works for voice. Among many awards and honors, she was designated "2008 Composer of the Year" by Musical America. More »

Oliver Knussen

2006 Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition Prize

Oliver Knussen

For his uniquely focused, vibrantly varied music and his total embrace--as a profoundly influential composer, conductor and educator--of today's musical culture

The Scottish born composer and conductor has lived most of his life near London where he made his conducting debut leading his own "First Symphony" at age 16 with the London Symphony Orchestra. In addition to numerous other compositions, Knussen has collaborated with author Maurice Sendak to produce operas based on Sendak's books "Where the Wild Things Are" and "Higglety Pigglety Pop!" Knussen is Conductor Laureate of the London Sinfonietta and Artist-in-Association with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. More »

John Adams

2004 Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition Prize

John Adams

For his fusing of a wide range of styles into a voice entirely new and distinctive, and for his connection to and reflection of the world around us

Born in Massachusetts in 1947, John Adams graduated from Harvard in 1971. He then taught and conducted for ten years at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and established his reputation as composer-in-residence with the San Francisco Symphony from 1979 to 1985. Adams was awarded the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Music for his 2002 composition "On the Transmigration of Souls" which was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic and honored the victims of the World Trade Center attacks. More »