Sonning Prize

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The Sonning Prize (Danish: Sonningprisen) is a Danish culture prize awarded biennially for outstanding contributions to European culture. It is named after the Danish editor and author Carl Johan Sonning (1879–1937), who established the prize by his will. The prize was first awarded in 1950, although its second winner was in 1959 after an eight-year hiatus. It was then awarded every year from 1959 to 1971, and then every second year from 1971 to 1991, and again from 1994 to present.

Prize winners are chosen by a committee chaired by the rector of the University of Copenhagen which decides on laureates from a selection of candidates proposed by European universities. The prize amounts to DKK 1 million (~135,000) and the award ceremony is always held on or around 19 April (Sonning's birthday) in Copenhagen.

Sonning Prize laureates[edit]

Year Recipient Lifespan Occupation Country
1950 Winston Churchill 1874–1965 Author and statesman  United Kingdom
1959 Albert Schweitzer 1875–1965 Philosopher and physician  France
1960 Bertrand Russell 1872–1970 Philosopher  United Kingdom
1961 Niels Bohr 1885–1962 Physicist  Denmark
1962 Alvar Aalto 1898–1976 Architect  Finland
1963 Karl Barth 1886–1968 Theologian   Switzerland
1964 Dominique Pire 1910–1969 Theologian and humanitarian  Belgium
1965 Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi 1894–1972 Author and statesman  Austria
1966 Laurence Olivier 1907–1989 Actor  United Kingdom
1967 Willem Visser 't Hooft 1900–1985 Theologian  Netherlands
1968 Arthur Koestler 1905–1983 Author  United Kingdom
1969 Halldór Laxness 1902–1998 Author  Iceland
1970 Max Tau 1897–1976 Author  West Germany
1971 Danilo Dolci 1924–1997 Author and social activist  Italy
1973 Karl Popper 1902–1994 Philosopher  Austria
1975 Hannah Arendt 1906–1975 Author and politologist  West Germany
1977 Arne Næss 1912–2009 Philosopher  Norway
1979 Hermann Gmeiner 1919–1986 Philanthropist  Austria
1981 Dario Fo 1926–2016 Playwright  Italy
1983 Simone de Beauvoir 1908–1986 Author  France
1985 William Heinesen 1900–1991 Author  Faroe Islands
1987 Jürgen Habermas b. 1929 Sociologist and philosopher  West Germany
1989 Ingmar Bergman 1918–2007 Film and theatre director  Sweden
1991 Václav Havel 1936–2011 Author and statesman  Czechoslovakia
1994 Krzysztof Kieślowski 1941–1996 Film director  Poland
1996 Günter Grass 1927–2015 Author  Germany
1998 Jørn Utzon 1918–2008 Architect  Denmark
2000 Eugenio Barba b. 1936 Author and theatre director  Italy
2002 Mary Robinson b. 1944 Politician  Ireland
2004 Mona Hatoum b. 1952 Video and installation artist  United Kingdom
2006 Ágnes Heller b. 1929 Philosopher  Hungary
2008 Renzo Piano b. 1937 Architect  Italy
2010 Hans Magnus Enzensberger b. 1929 Author  Germany
2012 Orhan Pamuk b. 1952 Author  Turkey
2014 Michael Haneke b. 1942 Film director  Austria
2018 Lars von Trier b. 1956 Film director  Denmark

See also[edit]


Sonning Prize at the University of Copenhagen