Arts and Culture

 A Serbian-born composer has won the Grawemeyer Award for music composition from the University of Louisville.

The university says Djuro Zivkovic’s chamber orchestra piece “On the Guarding of the Heart” “makes a huge emotional journey” through the course of its 20-minutes.

The piece was first performed in 2011, and it was written in the months prior in an 18th-Century house in Sweden.

“It’s a wooden house without electricity, without water, without anything inside. It’s a very special spiritual experience being there and to compose and to think,” Zivkovic says.

Adding to the spiritual experience was Zivkovic’s choice of reading material—Philokalia, a collection of works from the early Eastern Christian masters.

“It’s a very hard book to read because it’s very complex,” Zivkovic says. “But I was very inspired by these texts and I discovered some things I never knew before. I was reading the book and I was composing at the same time. When I got tired of composing, I was reading. When I got tired of reading, I was composing.”

Adding to it all is Zivkovic’s lifelong love of art, a spirit handed down from his parents.

“I got some good support from my parents. I could practice writing and compose without any other activities,” he says. “They allowed me to do that and supported me and everything. So thanks to my parents a lot.”

The Grawemeyer Award also comes with a $100,000 prize.

The remaining Grawemeyer winners will be announced throughout the week.

Listen to the whole piece here:

And you can hear Zivkovic talk with Classical 90.5’s Daniel Gilliam: