Karel Husa, Emigre Czech Composer

“Music for Prague 1968″–Watch on YouTube

Karl Husa was a Czech composer and conductor who emigrated to the United States in the 1950s. He is perhaps best known for “Music for Prague 1968,” a composition that he was inspired to write after he heard news of the Soviet invasion of his home country.

As explained on the LA Philharmonic website, the piece employs a 15th century Czech song, “Ye Warriors of God and His Law,” and uses the symbolism of various instruments throughout. The sound of bells, both as a sign of victory and distress, appear as a major theme in the piece. (Prague is known as the “City of A Hundred Spires.”) A piccolo solo represents a bird, itself a symbol for the liberty that has been so fleeting in Prague history.

“Music for Prague 1968” was originally scored for concert band and later transcribed for full orchestra.

Husa (August 7, 1921-December 14, 2016) was on the faculty of Cornell for nearly 40 years. He received a Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1969 for his “String Quartet No. 3.”

“String Quartet No. 3: Allegro Moderato” on Spotify