Arts and Culture

A collection of songs from the point of view of Shakespeare’s Ophelia is the winner of the 2016 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition.


Hans Abrahamsen

“Let Me Tell You” is a collection of songs for soprano and orchestra, composed by Hans Abrahamsen, with a libretto by Paul Griffiths. All of the text is taken directly from Ophelia’s lines in “Hamlet.” The piece was commissioned by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, which premiered it in 2013 with soprano Barbara Hannigan.

Abrahamsen was born in Copenhagen and teaches at the Royal Danish Academy of Music. One of his composition teachers was the 1986 Grawemeyer Award winner György Ligeti. He is currently at work on his first opera, based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen.”

The Grawemeyer Awards are presented annually by the University of Louisville for achievement in the areas of music composition, psychology, education, ideas improving world order, and religion (given jointly with the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary). Each winner receives a $100,000 prize, and is invited to present a free lecture in Louisville in April.

Here’s an excerpt of the award-winning piece:

Tara Anderson is the host and producer of Five Things, a podcast about the objects that tell our stories.