Composer Morten Lauridsen and Henry Ziegler Steinway, former president and chairman of the world-famous piano manufacturer founded by his great-grandfather, are among the nine recipients of the 2007 National Medal of Arts.
The White House and National Endowment for the Arts announced the names of the honorees yesterday; George W. and Laura Bush presented the Medals this morning in a ceremony in the East Rom of the White House.
Born in 1943 and for 35 years a composition professor at the University of Southern California, Lauridsen is one of the most widely-performed living composers in the U.S. His much-admired choral music is immensely popular with choirs (professional and amateur) all over this country and abroad; his works have appeared on more than 100 CDs, three of which have been nominated for Grammy Awards.
H. Z. Steinway was born in 1915 and joined the family business in 1937 after earning a degree in history from Harvard. He became director and vice president of Steinway and Sons in 1947; in 1955 he was appointed president. He remained at the helm of the firm until 1977 (after the purchase of the company by CBS) and was chairman until his retirement in 1980. He has since served Steinway as a consultant.
Other recipients of the 2007 National Medal of Arts include:
painter Andrew Wyeth
jazz guitarist Les Paul
Native American writer, painter and scholar N. Scott Momaday
visual art collector and patron Roy R. Neuberger
Craig Noel, director of The Old Globe Theater in San Diego
painter George Tooker
the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival at the University of Idaho
Also receiving a Medal today was conductor Erich Kunzel, director of the Cincinnati Pops, who was awarded the honor last year but was unable to attend the ceremony.
Established by Congress in 1984, the National Medal of Arts is given annually for contributions to the creation, growth, and support of the arts in the United States. The National Endowment for the Arts, which manages the program, seeks nominations for Medal recipients each year; the National Council on the Arts recommends nominees to the President, who makes the final selection.