text: Samuel Beckett, Pablo Neruda, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Albert Camus, Toni Morrison, Amartya Sen, Paul Samuelson, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Mother Teresa, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Eli Wiesel, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rigoberto Menchú, Dag Hammarskjold, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela
duration: 1h  15min 
instrumentation: mezzo-soprano, baritone, children's choir, SATB Chorus and Orchestra: 3 (pic)-3-3-3/4-3-3-1/timp, 3 perc, piano/strings
movements: Preamble for Known and Unknown Worlds, I. LITERATURE: War is Wide II. CHEMISTRY: Anthem and Elements, Proclamation for Economic Justice, III. ECONOMICS: To have and have not, IV. PHYSICS: Universal Scherzo, Proclamation for the Sick and Suffering, V. PHYSIOLOGY or MEDICINE: Chaconne for Healing, Narration/Peace Chant, VI. PEACE: Circles of Compassion, Postlude for the Rights for All

  • Patricia Snapp, mezzo soprano; Becky Smith, child soprano; Michael Jorgensen, baritone; The Gustavus Choir, Gregory Aune, conductor; Christ Chapel Choir, Patricia Kazarow, conductor; Lucia Singers, Patricia Snapp, conductor; The Metropolitan Boys Choir, Bea Hasselmann, director; The Mankato Children’s Choir, Julie Aunt, conductor; The Gustavus Orchestra, Warren Friesen, conductor; Steven C. Wright, trumpet fanfares. Gustavus Adolphus College, Christ Chapel, Saint Peter, MN, October 2, 2001
  • Lisa Drew, mezzo soprano; Michael Jorgensen, baritone; VocalEssence Chorus, Philip Brunelle, artistic director/conductor; Minnesota Boychoir, Mark Johnson, director; Gustavus Adolphus College Symphony Orchestra; Charles Lazarus, trumpet fanfares With new media work by Minneapolis College of Art and Design Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis, MN, April 18, 2004
on 10/02/2001
commissioned: Gustavus Adolphus College to commemorate the Centennial of the Nobel Prizes


(From YourClassical.org)

In 2001, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Nobel Prize, Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, commissioned American composer Steve Heitzeg to write a “Nobel Symphony.”

In 1866, the Swedish engineer and scientist Alfred Nobel had invented dynamite. His patent helped him amass a great fortune, but, troubled by the destructive power and potential misuse of his invention, Nobel arranged that his estate would award annual prizes to those who made significant contributions to world peace.

For his “Nobel Symphony,” Heitzeg chose to set quotes from a variety of Nobel laureates , including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Elie Wiesel, Martin Luther King, Jr, and the Dalai Lama. Purely instrumental effects were also employed to convey something of their ideas and ideals. For example, in a section honoring a 1997 winner of the Nobel Prize, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Heitzeg scored an eerie march for a percussion ensemble consisting of hollow artificial limbs.

The October 2, 2001 premiere of Steve Heitzeg’s “Nobel Symphony” came shortly after the tragic events of September 11th. Understandably, its message had a special resonance for the performers and audiences present at its first performance.

Composer Steven Heitzeg is a very modest man. Ask him about his sprawling, multi-layered Nobel Symphony, and he gives a nutshell description. “The piece’s intent is to honor all of the six disciplines or prizes of the Nobel Foundation, and at the same time is, in essence, a symphony for peace and justice,” Heitzeg says. That only begins to describe the Nobel Symphony’s ambition and complexity. It’s approximately 75-minutes long. There’s a movement for every Nobel Prize, from Peace, Literature, and Physics, to Chemistry, Medicine and Economics. It requires a full orchestra, a chorus, a children’s choir and several soloists. – Chris Roberts, Minnesota Public Radio


As my sister and I prowled through Minneapolis’ Orchestra Hall lobby before the afternoon got underway, we found ourselves in front of a large photographic grid about eight feet square, with 128 small wooden blocks, each corresponding to a measure in the Peace section of Steve Heitzeg’s impressive Nobel Symphony. The audience was invited to pick up and place these at random on the display, and then the resulting pattern would be used to order the sequence of visuals in the work. – Bruce Hodges, MusicWeb International

Peace movement from Nobel Symphony