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Salvatore Martirano Award



The Salvatore Martirano Memorial Composition Award is an international composers’ competition held annually in memory of Mr. Martirano who was a faculty member at the University of Illinois from 1963 to 1995. The award which was established in 1966 consists of a first prize of $1000 and a second prize of $500 plus performances of the winning compositions by the University of Illinois Modern Ensemble at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Zack Browning who is an Associate Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois directs the competition.

Salvatore Giovanni Martirano, internationally acclaimed American composer, was born on January 12th, 1927 in Yonkers, NY, a son of Alexander and Mary Mazzullo Martirano. He died at the age of 68 on Friday, November 17th, 1995. Professor Martirano studied composition with Herbert Elwell at Oberlin College (1947-51), Bernard Rodgers at The Eastman School of Music (1952), and with Luigi Dallapiccola at the Cherubini Conservatory in Florence, Italy (1952-4). From 1956 to 1959 he was in Rome as a Fellow of the American Academy, and in 1960 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship and an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. At this time he had works commissioned by the Koussevitzky and Fromm Foundations. He was professor of composition at the University of Illinois from 1963 until his retirement in 1995. During the Illinois years he also accepted residencies at The Sydney Conservatorium of Music in Sydney in 1979, IRCAM in Paris in 1982, and The California Institute of the Arts in 1993.

Martirano was among the very first composers to use and invent new computer technology for composition. He created two electronic music systems, the first being the Sal-Mar Construction and later the YahaSALmaMac. The Sal-Mar Construction was called “the world’s first composing machine" by the Science Digest and Composers’. Forum President Joel Chadabe noted that “The Sal-Mar Construction is a historically important musical event and a stunning and classical display of individual American invention. It must be seen and heard!” Martirano toured the world with the performing/composing music machines and described his live performances in the following manner: “The composer, in performance, interacts with the machine as it composes, creating spontaneously four melodic lines which move throughout the concert space via a network of 24 overhead speakers.”

Martirano’s most famous piece is “L’s G.A.” (1967) for gassed-masked politico, helium bomb, 3-16 mm movie projectors and 2 channel tape recorder. The work features a narrator wearing an amplified gas mask who recites a modified version of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The narrator inhales a mixture of nitrous oxide and helium to raise the pitch and emotional intensity of the voice to the accompaniment of taped sounds and film projections by Ron Nameth. “L’s. G.A” has been referred to as “the quintessential anti-war piece,” and “The Eroika of mixed media.” The Village Voice called the piece “terrifying, clear, and a mixed-media classic” and the LA Times has labeled it “a famous 1960s psychedelic mixed-media collaboration.”

Martirano’s orchestral and choral compositions have been performed by the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Cleveland Orchestra, and by radio orchestras and choral ensembles throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.




The University of Illinois School of Music and Global Crossroads Living-Learning Community celebrate the 20th ANNIVERSARY of the Salvatore Martirano Memorial Composition Award by announcing the 2016 competition.

The 2016 Salvatore Martirano Memorial Composition Award


Eligibility: Any composer, regardless of age or nationality is eligible. Previous winners, faculty, and currently-enrolled students at the University of Illinois are ineligible for the competition.


Awards: First Prize cash award of $1000 and second prize cash award of $500 plus performances by the Illinois Modern Ensemble in September of 2016 at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of the University of Illinois. Additional awards and performances may be given at the discretion of the judges.

Judges: A panel of judges consisting of international composers and University of Illinois music composition faculty members will select the winning compositions. The winning composers are expected to attend the 20th anniversary award concert and reception, and will be responsible for their transportation costs (the competition will provide lodging and some meals). The winning composers will assume full responsibility for providing adequate performance materials upon request.


1. Medium:


Full scores of any style or aesthetic direction for one to fifteen performers (including vocalists) may be submitted. Works for electronics and/or mixed media (including video), with or without instruments and voices, are eligible.

2. Duration:

20 minutes maximum

3. Limit:

One entry per composer

4. Entry fee:


A non-refundable entry fee of twenty US dollars (20.00 USD) is paid online at the time of submission. All major credit cards are accepted.

5. Anonymous    Submission:  


The composer's name must not appear on the score or in any accompanying materials submitted online.


Entries must be submitted and paid for online by Friday, April 15, 2016 11:59PM CST (23:59 GMT-0600).


(Submissions are now closed.)

For more information and to submit scores go to:






2016 Awards

James O'Callaghan, “Among Am A” for flute, bass clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and electronics (First Prize),
Nicola Straffelini, “Labyrinth Song” for piccolo, bass clarinet, violin, cello, percussion, and piano (Second Prize)

2016 Jury

Morgan Powell (Professor Emeritus, University of Illinois)
Benjamin Grosser (Assistant Professor, School of Art and Design, University of Illinois)
Linda Khuri (Program Director, Global Crossroads, Health Professions, Intersections and Women in Math, Science, and Engineering Living-Learning Communities, University of Illinois)
Susan Parenti (Educational Coordinator at the School for the Design of a New Society)
Sever Tipei (Professor, School of Music, University of Illinois)

Previous Awards

2015 Matthew Ricketts, “Flat Line” for 15 players (First Prize),
Anthony Vine, “For Agnes Martin” for 7 players and cassette tapes (Second Prize)

2014 Nina C. Young, “Traced Upon Cinders” for 13 musicians (First Prize),
Aurélio Edler-Copes, “Encore Seule” for soprano and 5 musicians (Second Prize),
David Coll, “Act” for soprano and 12 players (Third Prize)

2013 Luís Antunes Pena, “im rauschen rot” for cb., perc. quartet and electronics (First Prize),
Daniel Moreira, “The King from Papatua” for ensemble and baritone (Second Prize),
Alexander Khubeev, “Sounds of the dark time” for ob., cl., bsn., pno., 2 vls., vla. and vc. (Third Prize)

2012 Michael Seltenreich, “Sparks and Flairs” for fl., cl., perc., pno., vn. and vc. (First Prize),
Stephen Yip, “Dark Side of the Shadows” for bass cl., vc., and pno. (Second Prize)

2011 Louis Franz Aguirre, “Ochosi” for string quartet (First Prize),
Marcin Stanczyk, “Nibiru” (Second Prize),
Julien-Robert Legault Salvail, “Chute libre” (Third Prize)

2010 Josep Maria Guix, “Evening Wind” four haikus for chamber ensemble (First Prize),
Alexandre Lunsqui, “Drawings for Ibere” (Second Prize),
Samuel Nichols, “Refuge” (Third Prize), Carlos Michans, "Trois Visions Tantriques"(Honorable Mention)

2009 Michael Klingbeil, “Tear of the Clouds” (First Prize),
Vladimir Rannev, “Variations on an Impulse” (Second Prize), Geoff Knorr, “Of Consonance and Contention” (Honorable Mention), Christopher Bailey, "Walking Down the Hillside at Cortona, and Seeing its Tower Rise Before Me"(Honorable Mention)

2008 Abel Paúl, “fragmentos del vértigo” (First Prize),
Sungji Hong, “Shades of Raindrops” (Second Prize), Carl Bettendorf, “Inner Life” (Third Prize)

2007 Takeo Hoshiya, “Instability Principle” (First Prize),
So Jeong Ahn, “Ssa-reng, ui...”(Second Prize), Christopher Arrell, “Argot” (Honorable Mention)

2006 Douglas Boyce, “102nd & Amsterdam” (First Prize),
Jorge Garcia del Valle Mendez, “seok yang jong” (Second Prize), Calogero Panvino, “Sonata 101” (Honorable mention), Nicholas Paul Vines, “Dolmen for a New Albion” (Honorable Mention)

2005  Steven Rice, “Murmurs from Limbo”
2004  Robert Yamasato, “Scherzo”
2003  Edward Top, “String Quartet”
2002 Yumiko Juvigny, “Out of Dark Lair”
2001 Orlando Jacinto Garcia, "Paisaje del Sonido II
2000 Sophia Serghi, "Sizzle"
1999 Craig T. Walsh, "0 to 33 in 1045.5" and Keith Moore, "A Vagrant on Every Floor"
1998 Karim Al-Zand, "String Quartet"
1997 Jason Eckardt, "Echoes' White Veil"



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