The Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation has named conductor Michael Gielen as the winner of its 2010 Music prize, worth €200,000. The prestigious international award, often referred to as the “Nobel Prize for Music”, honours a composer, performer or musicologist each year for his or her exceptional contribution to the profession. The distinguished list of previous winners includes Benjamin Britten, Mstislav Rostropovich, Herbert von Karajan, Leonard Bernstein, Daniel Barenboim and Anne-Sophie Mutter.
German-born Gielen was director of Frankfurt Opera and general music director of the City of Frankfurt for 10 years from 1977, where he worked to transform music theatre traditions. Prior to this he was music director of the Royal Swedish Opera and the Orchestre National Belgique, and principal conductor of the Netherlands Opera. His commitment to contemporary and avant-garde styles was cemented during his tenure as chief conductor of South West German Radio from 1986-1999. He is recognised by the Foundation as “one of the few conductors who have not only served, but helped to form and change musical culture”.
The award ceremony, due to take place in Munich on May 5, will for the first time include performances of commissioned works by this year’s three Foundation Composer’s Prize winners – Pierluigi Billone, Arnulf Harrmann and Oliver Schneller. In total the Foundation is set to fund more than 80 projects from 16 countries in 2010, granting €2.3m in awards and commissions.