Nature, love inspires Grawemeyer Award-winning piece


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – “Spheres,” a six-movement work for orchestra by German composer York Hoeller, has earned the 2010 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition.

    The piece, chosen from among 136 entries worldwide, was performed for the first time in 2008 by the West German Broadcasting Corp.’s symphony orchestra in Cologne, Germany.

    “The work grips you viscerally from the first bars and never lets up,” said Marc Satterwhite, a UofL music professor who directs the award.

    The 40-minute, six-movement piece was inspired by literature, music of the past and the elements of air, water, earth and fire from Greek philosophy, Satterwhite said. Hoeller, who spent five years composing the work, dedicated the last movement “with love and gratitude” to his wife, Ursula, who died in 2006.

    “The piece is magnificently scored, using a large orchestra to generate colors ranging from the most delicate to the most overwhelming,” Satterwhite said.

    Hoeller, professor emeritus of music composition at the Cologne University of Music, is known for fusing together live and electronic sounds in his works. His compositions often incorporate references to romanticism and French-influenced orchestration along with modernist techniques.

    “Spheres” is scheduled to be commercially released on CD in April by NEOS, a German company specializing in contemporary music recordings.

    Five Grawemeyer Awards are presented annually for outstanding works in music composition, ideas improving world order, psychology, education and religion. Winners of the other 2010 Grawemeyer Awards also are being announced this week.

    For more details or to download Hoeller’s photo, see