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2008 Pulitzer Prize in Music

David Lang by Klaus Rudolph

David Lang Wins Music Pulitzer

By Tom Huizenga

David Lang, a New York-based composer, has won the Pulitzer Prize for music with his piece, The Little Match Girl Passion, based on the children's story by Hans Christian Andersen.

Lang's music makes a big impact with small forces. The piece is scored for only four voices and a few percussion instruments, played by the singers. They sing the sad story of a little girl who freezes to death selling matches on the street during a cold winter's night.

In notes Lang wrote to accompany the Carnegie Hall premiere last October, he says he was drawn to Andersen's story because of how opposite aspects of the plot played off each other.

"The girl's bitter present is locked together with the sweetness of her past memories," Lang says. "Her poverty is always suffused with her hopefulness. There's a kind of naïve equilibrium between suffering and hope."

Lang was also intrigued by the religious allegory he saw beneath the surface of the story, and he found inspiration in the music of his favorite composer, J.S. Bach.

Read more about this, including an audio excerpt, at the NPR website: