Léonie Sonning Music Prize

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Léonie Sonning Music Prize
Awarded for"internationally recognised composer, musician, conductor or singer"
Sponsored byThe Léonie Sonning Music Foundation
First awarded1959

The Léonie Sonning Music Prize, or Sonning Award, which is recognized as Denmark's highest musical honor, is given annually to an international composer or musician.[1] It was first awarded in 1959 to composer Igor Stravinsky.[2] Laureates are now selected by the directors of The Léonie Sonning Music Foundation, which was founded in 1965.[3]

The diploma is in Danish, and the prize includes EUR 100,000 (US$ 107,000) and a monotype by the Danish painter Maja Lisa Engelhardt.[4] Honorees are treated to a concert, typically held in Copenhagen, and are often invited to teach a master class of Danish musicians.

The award is not directly related to the Sonning Prize, which is the Danish award presented by a foundation in memory of Sonning's late husband, Carl Johan Sonning [da].


Year Laureate Country Notes
1959 Igor Stravinsky  Soviet Union [2]
1965 Leonard Bernstein  United States [5][6]
1966 Birgit Nilsson  Sweden [7][8]
1967 Witold Lutosławski  Poland [9][10]
1968 Benjamin Britten  United Kingdom [11]
1969 Boris Christoff  Bulgaria
1970 Sergiu Celibidache  Romania
1971 Arthur Rubinstein  Poland/ United States
1972 Yehudi Menuhin  United States
1973 Dmitri Shostakovitch  Soviet Union
1974 Andrés Segovia  Spain
1975 Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau  West Germany
1976 Mogens Wöldike  Denmark
1977 Olivier Messiaen  France
1978 Jean-Pierre Rampal  France
1979 Janet Baker  United Kingdom
1980 Marie-Claire Alain  France
1981 Mstislav Rostropovich  Soviet Union
1982 Isaac Stern  United States
1983 Rafael Kubelík  Czechoslovakia
1984 Miles Davis  United States
1985 Pierre Boulez  France
1986 Sviatoslav Richter  Soviet Union
1987 Heinz Holliger   Switzerland
1988 Peter Schreier  East Germany [3]
1989 Gidon Kremer  Soviet Union
1990 György Ligeti  Hungary/ Austria
1991 Eric Ericson  Sweden
1992 Georg Solti  Hungary/ United Kingdom
1993 Nikolaus Harnoncourt  Austria
1994 Krystian Zimerman  Poland
1995 Yuri Bashmet  Russia
1996 Per Nørgård  Denmark
1997 Andras Schiff  Hungary/ United Kingdom
1998 Hildegard Behrens  Germany
1999 Sofia Gubaidulina  Russia
2000 Michala Petri  Denmark
2001 Anne-Sophie Mutter  Germany
2002 Alfred Brendel  Austria
2003 György Kurtág  Hungary
2004 Keith Jarrett  United States
2005 John Eliot Gardiner  United Kingdom
2006 Yo-Yo Ma  United States
2007 Lars Ulrik Mortensen  Denmark
2008 Arvo Pärt  Estonia
2009 Daniel Barenboim  Argentina
2010 Cecilia Bartoli  Italy
2011 Kaija Saariaho  Finland
2012 Jordi Savall  Spain
2013 Simon Rattle  United Kingdom
2014 Martin Fröst  Sweden
2015 Thomas Adès  United Kingdom
2016 Herbert Blomstedt  Sweden
2017 Leonidas Kavakos  Greece [12]
2018 Mariss Jansons  Latvia [4]
2019 Hans Abrahamsen  Denmark [13]
2020 Barbara Hannigan  Canada [14]


  1. ^ Wasserman, P.; McLean, J.W.; Gale Research Company (1995). Awards, Honors, and Prizes. Gale Research Company. p. 121. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  2. ^ a b Britten, B.; Kildea, P.F. (2003). On Music. Oxford University Press. p. 315. ISBN 978-0-19-816714-3. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  3. ^ a b NOMUS (Organization) (1990). Nordic Sounds. NOMUS. p. 9. Retrieved 29 April 2018. Schreier marked the twenty-fifth presentation of the prize, but actually more than 25 years of its existence inasmuch as an extraordinary award was made to Igor Stravinsky in 1959, before the Sonning Trust had been formally established. This happened in 1965, ... Since 1965 the prize has been presented every year on a date as near as possible to May 30, which was the wedding anniversary of Léonie Sonning and her husband Carl JohanSonning. The statutes stipulate that the ...
  4. ^ a b "Conductor Mariss Jansons Awarded Prestigious €100,000 Danish Bursary". The World's Leading Classical Music News Source. Est 2009. 21 April 2017. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  5. ^ Reed, P.H. (1965). The American Record Guide. Helen Dwight Reid Educational Foundation. p. 18. Retrieved 29 April 2018. On the evening of May 17th Leonard Bernstein was awarded the Leonie Sonning Music Prize in recognition of his efforts on behalf of Carl Nielsen. The ceremony took place during a concert I attended at the 18th-century Odd Fellow Palace in Copenhagen, in whose wonderful old concert hall Nielsen himself had conducted many a premiere of his works. It had been agreed that, in coming to Copenhagen to accept the prize, ...
  6. ^ Theatre in Denmark. Danish Centre of the I.T.I. 1966. Retrieved 29 April 2018. ... the Royal Danish Ballet and Music Festival at the end of May, and besides the Royal Theatre's production of his opera "Maskerade", which had not been performed for 15 years, the main event was a concert, including Carl Nielsen's 3rd Symphony, performed by the Royal Orchester, conducted for the first time by Leonard Bernstein and recorded during his stay in Copenhagen. The formal object of Mr. Bernstein's visit to Copenhagen was to receive the Leonie Sonning Musical Prize.
  7. ^ Leach, H.G.; American-Scandinavian Foundation (1966). The American-Scandinavian Review. American-Scandinavian Foundation. p. 203. Retrieved 29 April 2018. The Leonie Sonning Prize for 1966 was recently awarded the Swedish singer Birgit Nilsson. The amount of the Prize is 50,000 Danish kroner. The Leonie Sonning Prize was awarded for the first time in 1959, with Igor Stravinsky being the recipient. The 1965 winner was conductor Leonard Bernstein.
  8. ^ Theatre in Denmark. Danish Centre of the I.T.I. 1966. p. 3. Retrieved 29 April 2018. This year's Leonie Sonning Music Prize was given to Birgit Nilsson, who visited The Royal Theatre on May 17th, 1966, for a guest performance in "Fidelio". Birgit Nilsson honoured yong Danish singers by donating her salary for this performance to be used as a scholarship for two young female singers.
  9. ^ Stucky, S. (1981). Lutoslawski and His Music. Cambridge University Press. p. 89. ISBN 978-0-521-22799-5. Retrieved 29 April 2018. In 1967 he received the Gottfried von Herder Prize from the University of Vienna, and in August of that year he was given the Leonie Sonning Prize in Copenhagen 'in recognition and admiration of his mastery as a composer, which is a source of inspiration to the musical life of our age'. The award was presented at an all- Lutoslawski concert as part of the Royal Danish Festival of Music and Ballet celebrating the 800th anniversary of Copenhagen's founding.
  10. ^ Erhardt, L. (1975). Music in Poland. Interpress Publishers. p. 139. Retrieved 29 April 2018. The year 1967 again put Witold Lutoslawski in the news when he received the coveted Leonie Sonning Award "in recognition and admiration of his masterly compositional virtuosity which is a source of inspiration to the musical life of our times".
  11. ^ Avis-Årbogen (in Danish). J.H. Schultz. 1968. p. 93. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  12. ^ "Violinist Leonidas Kavakos wins Léonie Sonning Music Prize 2017". The Strad. London. 27 January 2016. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  13. ^ Pedersen, Karen Lerbech (30 January 2018). "Dansk kunstner modtager kæmpepris: Jeg er beæret og rystet i min grundvold!". DR (in Danish). Archived from the original on 31 January 2018. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  14. ^ Vincent, Michael (1 February 2019). "Barbara Hannigan Awarded Denmark's Highest Classical Music Honour". ludwig van. Toronto. Retrieved 3 February 2019.

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