LOUISVILLE, Kentucky, December 1 /PRNewswire/ --

The Lost Art of Letter Writing, a four-movement concerto for violin and orchestra by Australian composer Brett Dean, has earned the 2009 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition.

The work, commissioned by the Cologne Philharmonie and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra for violinist Frank Peter Zimmerman, was chosen for the prize from among 145 entries worldwide. Dean conducted and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam accompanied when the piece premiered in 2007 in Cologne.

It's a wonderful solo vehicle that also contains terrific writing for orchestra, said Marc Satterwhite, a UofL music professor who directs the award.

Each movement in the half-hour concerto begins with an excerpt from a 19th-century letter, with a violin evoking the mood of each letter as it plays the alternate roles of writer and recipient. Authors of the letters include composers Johannes Brahms and Hugo Wolf, artist Vincent Van Gogh and Australian outlaw Ned Kelly.

The piece combines the brilliant surface one might expect from a Romantic era violin concerto with enormous emotional range and depth, Satterwhite said.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra performed the concerto for the first time in the United States in 2007.

Dean, the first composer from Australia to win the music award, played in the viola section of the Berlin Philharmonic for 15 years. He returned to Australia in 2000, winning the Paul Lowin Song Cycle Prize for Winter Songs in 2001. In 2002-03, he was artist in residence with the Melbourne Symphony and composer in residence at the Cheltenham Festival.

His other compositions include Carlo, a piece for strings, sampler and tape; a ballet, One of a Kind, and a clarinet concerto, Ariel's Music.

Dean continues to perform as a violist and conductor and also is artistic director for the Australian National Academy of Music.

The Grawemeyer Foundation at UofL annually awards US$1 million -- US$200,000 each -- for outstanding works in music composition, ideas improving world order, psychology, education and religion. Past winners of the music prize include Witold Lutoslawski, Gyorgy Ligeti and Pierre Boulez.

For more details, call Marc Satterwhite, +1-502-852-1787 or see www.grawemeyer.org

Marc Satterwhite of University of Louisville, +1-502-852-1787