Julian Anderson, composer in residence at Guildhall School of Music & Drama, has received the 2023 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition for his work Litanies.


Influenced by the death of a colleague and the fire at Paris' Notre Dame cathedral, Litanies received its premiere with cellist Alban Gerhardt and the National Orchestra of France in 2020. The work was a co-commission from Radio France, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Det Norske Kammerokester, the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne.

'I am overjoyed and deeply honoured to be the recipient of the 2023 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition,' says Anderson. 'Litanies was inspired by the special qualities of cellist Alban Gerhardt, to whom it is dedicated. Two unrelated tragedies occurred whilst I was composing: the death of my dear colleague Oliver Knussen and the burning down of Notre Dame in Paris. The ‘Litanies’ of the title sing out both the loss of a dear friend and the destruction of a world monument.

'I am deeply grateful to the panel of the Grawemeyer Award for their recognition of a work which is both an act of commemoration and a celebration of musical beauty.'

Marc Satterwhite, director of the Grawemeyer Music Award, says: 'Litanies explores virtually every sound a cello and orchestra can make together. It spans a vast emotional range and is constantly inventive. It is always towards an expressive end, and never for the sake of novelty.'

Anderson has been professor of composition and composer-in-residence at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama since 2007. A former pupil of John Lambert, Alexander Goehr and Tristan Murail, Julian’s work has been premiered by orchestras around the world.


The Grawemeyer Awards honour seminal ideas in world order, psychology, education and religion.


Steve Wright
Steve WrightMulti-Platform Content Producer, BBC Music Magazine

Steve has been an avid listener of classical music since childhood, and now contributes a variety of features to BBC Music’s magazine and website. He started writing about music as Arts Editor of an Oxford University student newspaper and has continued ever since, serving as Arts Editor on various magazines.