Salonen’s award-winning Violin Concerto scored in Sibelius

Esa-Pekka Salonen (photo by Sonja Werner)

Esa-Pekka Salonen is one of the world’s most celebrated conductors, with long and successful associations with the Philharmonia Orchestra in London – where he is presently Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor – and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He is also a celebrated composer, and recently his 2009 Violin Concerto has been selected as the winner of the 2012 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition. The concerto was, of course, scored entirely in Sibelius.

Esa-Pekka issued the following statement about the award and the work:

“The initial impulse for writing a concerto for violin was a very inspiring and enjoyable collaboration with Leila Josefowicz on a number of contemporary works in Los Angeles and Chicago. She plays new music with the same kind of dedication and panache others reserve for Brahms, Beethoven and the rest of the gang.

My long and very happy tenure as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic was coming to an end. After 17 years I had decided it was time to move on and try to devote more time for composing. It felt like a seismic shift in my life, and during the composing process of “Violin Concerto” I felt that I was somehow trying to sum up everything I had learned and experienced up to that point in my life as a musician. This sense of having reached a watershed was heightened by the fact that I turned 50, the kind of number that brutally wipes out any hallucinations of still being young.

There is a strong internal, private narrative in my concerto, and it is not a coincidence that the last movement is called “Adieu.” For myself, the strongest symbol of what I was going through is the very last chord of the piece; a new harmonic idea never heard before in the concerto. I saw it as a door to the next part of my life of which I didn’t know so much yet, a departure with all the thrills and fears of the unknown.”

Many congratulations to Esa-Pekka on this prestigious award!


  1. John McLean

    Is there a recording of this piece?

    1. Daniel Spreadbury

      I don’t know of a commercially available recording, but you can see a live performance on YouTube.

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