The $1 million (€792,000) award is given by a foundation established by Nilsson, the legendary Swedish soprano, for outstanding achievements in opera and concert.
Nilsson was an honorary member of the Vienna Philharmonic. She died in 2005 after a career spanning almost 40 years. Nilsson personally chose the first prize-winner and put the chosen name in a sealed envelope to be opened three years after her death, which was on Christmas Day 2005. The envelope was opened in February 2009 and the first laureate was the opera tenor and conductor Plácido Domingo.
The award ceremony will be held at Stockholm Concert Hall in the presence of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia. The Vienna Philharmonic will perform under Italian conductor Riccardo Muti, who won the prize in 2011.
Austria’s President Heinz Fischer will attend.
The Birgit Nilsson Prize is the largest prize in the history of classical music. It may never be awarded twice to the same artist or institution, and the recipient is determined by an international panel of highly regarded professionals in the world of classical music and the Foundation Board.
The Birgit Nilsson prize is awarded around every three years for outstanding achievements in music. Photo: VPO
The money from the prize will be used to expand the VPO Historic Archive.
Andreas Grossbauer, the VPO President stated, “The Vienna Philharmonic believes that you ensure your future by remembering and documenting your past. Given the historic significance of the Vienna Philharmonic in music history and the historic significance of Birgit Nilsson herself, the Vienna Philharmonic has unanimously voted to use the entire one million dollar Birgit Nilsson Prize to expand its Historic Archive and to make it more easily accessible."
"It has long been a dream of the VPO to have a transparent archive which is more accessible and more readily open to the public, to entice young people to view and study this history of almost two centuries, and to provide an environment conducive to scholarly research. This Prize will enable the VPO to establish a permanent home for its vast archive, which has grown appreciably over the past decades. As the VPO moves forward into the next century, its historic context and legacy will now be assured."