Columbia University New York, N.Y. 10027 Office of Public Information (212) 854-5573
The 1995 Ditson Conductor's Award for the advancement of American music will be awarded by Columbia University to Gustav Meier, music director of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony and the Greater Lansing Symphony, the University has announced.
Mr. Meier, who heads the Conductors Seminar at Tanglewood Music Center, will receive the award Saturday, Oct. 21, at an 8:30 P.M. concert opening the Greater Bridgeport Symphony's 50th season at Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport, Conn. Symphony French hornist Stewart Schuele has composed a special "Fanfare" to mark the occasion.
The Ditson Conductor's Award was established 50 years ago in 1945 by the Alice M. Ditson Fund at Columbia and is the oldest award honoring conductors for their support of American music. Previous recipients have included Christopher Keene, Mstislav Rostropovich, Leopold Stowkowski, Leonard Bernstein and Eugene Ormandy.
Columbia Professor of Music George Edwards, the Secretary of the Ditson Fund Advisory Committee, will present the 51st annual award and $1,000 to Mr. Meier. He will read a citation from Columbia University President George Rupp praising Maestro Meier as a "revered teacher of conducting" whose "extraordinary skill and uncanny ability to intuit the composer's intentions lead to performances notable for their rhythmic life, clarity and sense of the whole."
Noted for a special devotion to American music, Mr. Meier, 66, has conducted hundreds of performances of nearly 200 compositions by American composers, including more than 50 first performances of works by such composers as Robert Carl, Elliott Carter, Kurt Weill, Hugo Weisgall, James Drew and Thomas Fay.
Acclaimed as an outstanding conductor and gifted teacher, Mr. Meier since 1980 has spent summers overseeing the prestigious Conductors Seminar at Tanglewood Music Center, whose guests have included Andre Previn, Kurt Mazur and Colin Davis. His association with Tanglewood dates to 1957 and 1958, when he himself won a conducting fellowship and was a member of a remarkable class that included Claudio Abbado, Zubin Mehta and David Zinman.
Head of the orchestra conducting program at the University of Michigan, director of orchestras and a full professor from 1976 until this year, he has been music director of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony since 1972 and music director of the Michigan's Greater Lansing Symphony since 1979. He appears regularly as a guest conductor in Europe, South and Central America and throughout the United States.
After graduating from the Zurich Conservatory, the Swiss-born conductor continued his studies at the Academia Chigiana Siena. He began his career as a conductor of the Lucerne Opera, followed by several seasons at the Vienna Chamber Opera and the Zurich Opera. He has been a regular conductor at operas in New York City, Santa Fe and San Francisco.
He served as professor of music at Yale University from 1960 to 1973, the youngest full professor ever at the school, and at the Eastman School of Music from 1973 to 1976.
Mr. Meier has won critical praise for his innovative artistic direction. In 1982 he conducted Stravinsky's opera The Rake's Progress with film director Robert Altman directing at the University of Michigan. In 1986, he premiered the multi-media production of William Bolcom's Songs of Innocence and Experience at the University of Michigan and Grant Park in Chicago.
Following is the text of a citation from Columbia University President George Rupp to Gustav Meier, the recipient of the University's 1995 Ditson Conductor's Award for the advancement of American music, to be presented Oct. 21, 1995, at the opening concert of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony's 50th season at 8:30 P.M. in Klein Memorial Auditorium, Bridgeport, Conn.
Born and educated in Switzerland, you held positions as an operatic conductor in Vienna and Zurich before continuing your conducting studies at Tanglewood in the summers of 1957 and 1958. Since then, you have appeared frequently as a guest conductor of major orchestras and opera companies in Europe and the Americas and have served for many years as Music Director of the Greater Lansing and Greater Bridgeport Symphony Orchestras. Perhaps the country's most revered teacher of conducting, you have been Professor of Conducting at Yale University, the Eastman School of Music, and the University of Michigan, and you have headed the prestigious conducting program at Tanglewood since 1980.
But you are known for educating orchestras and audiences, as well as conductors. An important element in your innovative programming has been your special devotion to American music. You have conducted hundreds of performances of nearly 200 compositions by American composers, including over 50 first performances. Your extraordinary skill and uncanny ability to intuit the composer's intentions lead to performances notable for their rhythmic life, clarity, and sense of the whole.
For your inspired dedication to the performance of American music for over 35 years, Columbia University is delighted to honor you with the Ditson Conductor's Award for 1995.
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