Composer Jennifer Higdon wins Pulitzer for Violin Concerto


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Composer Jennifer Higdon has won the Pulitzer Prize for music for her Violin Concerto, making her one of the few women to have won the country’s top classical music prize.

The concerto was co-commissioned by the Indianapolis Symphony and debuted in 2009 with the orchestra and Hilary Hahn as the soloist. In its citation, the Pulitzer board described the piece as “deeply engaging” and said that it “combines flowing lyricism with dazzling virtuosity.”


Higdon said she wrote the concerto with Hahn in mind and that the piece is meant to ‘show off her gifts.’

The composer said in a phone interview that she was surprised to learn that she had won the Pulitzer on Monday.

‘I turned on my cellphone and I had all these messages and I thought that was unusual,’ she said. ‘So I guess I found out a little bit after everyone else.’

The other finalists in the music category were Fred Lerdahl’s String Quartet No. 3 and Julia Wolfe’s ‘Steel Hammer.’

Higdon, who holds a teaching post at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, has received commissions from major orchestras around the country, including the Atlanta Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Pittsburgh Symphony.
This has been an especially rewarding year for the composer. In January, Higdon won a Grammy Award in the category of contemporary classical composition for her Percussion Concerto.

In June, Higdon said she will premiere a new concerto written for the new-music group eighth blackbird in Atlanta.


-- David Ng


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