Seiji Ozawa has won this year’s Praemium Imperiale award for music. The awards themselves, which are bestowed by the Japan Art Association and given by the imperial family of Japan, come at a time when that country is fighting to reassure artists that Japan is a safe place to travel to, and hence to reassert its place as a beacon of culture in the East.
The choice of Ozawa, Japan’s best-known classical musician and founder of the Saito Kinen Festival, for the music prize will further reinforce that message. Alongside him, the other prizes were won by Dame Judi Dench (film/theatre), Anish Kapoor (sculpture), Ricardo Legorreta (architecture) and Bill Viola (painting).
Informally known as “Japan’s nobel prizes” the Praemium Imperiale is one of the most lucrative awards in the arts world. Each recipient gets 15 million yen alongside their gold medal. That translated this year to £115,000. After a celebratory London reception yesterday, the winners were invited to visit the Queen at Buckingham Palace for her personal congratulations.