A History of the Rome Prize in Music Composition

1947 - 2006


             I have been closely associated with the American Academy in Rome since I arrived there in the Fall of 1964 as that year's Rome Prize Fellow in Music Composition. Following a three year Fellowship, I remained in Rome as a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and soon thereafter, after winning the Kranichsteiner Musikpreis Competition in piano, as a freelance composer-pianist. In 1970 the Academy asked me to assist with various aspects of its music program. I did so and I have continued to do so - first as an assistant to the Composer in Residence, then as Music Liaison and presently as Music Consultant. It has been a privilege for me to be associated with the American Academy in Rome through all of these years and, as one can easily imagine, its community of distinguished scholars and artists has been a constant source of marvelous fellowship, friendship and inspiration.

           In 2006 I assembled the following History of the Rome Prize in Music Composition at the request of the Academy and in preparation for the publication of a book which was intended to cover many different aspects of the important role the Rome Prize in Music Composition has played in the contemporary musical life of the United States. My portion of that project was to document the musical life of the Academy as it took place in Rome from the Academy's reopening following World War II (1947) to the "present" (i.e. 2006). This was, of course, particularly of interest to me since I had been actively connected with the Academy for a good deal of that period and I personally knew approximately two-thirds of the composers concerned. Furthermore this project came on the heels of the digitalization of the American Academy in Rome's Concert Recordings Archive which covered annual recordings of Fellows' concerts reaching back to 1955. I had overseen that project in 2003 and I felt that these two projects were extremely vital in historicizing the Academy's important music program. Unfortunately the projected book has yet to be published and by now the history I prepared is several years behind the present time. In consideration of this fact, therefore, I am publishing it here in the hopes that this information will be of service in promoting awareness of the Rome Prize in Music Composition and in contributing a detailed historical perspective to the musical activities which have been carried out at the American Academy in Rome since its reopening. Additionally I hope this internet publication will allow interested Fellows and colleagues (most of whom I contacted personally during my preparation of the text) to read through this history and contact me with suggestions, changes, rectifications, etc. It has been a marvelous journey and, of course, I would love to set the record as straight as possible before it's over!

Richard Trythall

Rome, April 2013

A History of the Rome Prize in Music Compositionred bar 81 pages, PDF

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