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Composer Tristan Murail Wins the Wihuri Sibelius Prize

The spectral composer will receive a cash prize of €150,000

Established in 1953 and first awarded to Jean Sibelius, the Wihuri Sibelius Prize has been awarded 19 times to composers such as Unsuk Chin, Harrison Birtwistle, and György Kurtág.

Carrying a value of €150,000, French spectral composer Tristan Murail is this year's recipient.

Born in Le Havre, France in 1947, Tristan Murail studied composition with Olivier Messiaen. Alongside Roger Tessier and others, he was the founder of Ensemble l'Itinéraire in 1973, which was closely associated with the development of spectral music and is one of the most prestigious contemporary music groups working today.

His large-scale orchestral piece Gondwana (1980) is considered a key work in the spectral movement.

Throughout the 1980s, Murail developed a number of computer-aided compositional tools and taught at the IRCAM Institute in Paris — a center of electro-acoustic music. He also taught composition at Columbia University from 1997 until his retirement in 2011.

Murail's other honors include the Prix de Rome (1971), the Grand Prix du Disque (1990), and the Grand Prix du Président de la République of the Académie Charles Cros (1992).

"The foundation sent me the information by email a couple of days after Christmas, and at the same time they sent a list of previous awardees. I was very impressed," Murail said of receiving the award.

You can watch an interview with the composer below.


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