Another award for the Vienna Philharmonic

Another award for the Vienna Philharmonic


norman lebrecht

December 14, 2014

They’ve been given the Herbert von Karajan award in Baden-Baden, topping up the $1 million Birgit Nilsson Prize from earlier in the year.

The new prize is worth 50,000 Euros.

The point of it?

See Ecclesiastes, 1:1.

vienna phil pose


  • Heribert von K says:

    maybe I just dropped my stick because of this?

  • Nick says:

    Well now they can afford to reinstate the Sibelius at the NYD concert!

  • Herrera says:

    there’s nothing sadder than one music organization giving another music organization a music award, it’s just self-congratulation, patting each other on the back.

    it’s like the Grammy’s giving a Grammy to the Emmy’s, or the Academy Awards giving an Academy to the Tony’s…

  • Peter says:

    And because its the VPO that makes it even worse….

  • Herrera says:

    Past winners:

    1. Berlin Phil: why would Baden-Baden, home of Berlin Phil after they decamped from the rival Saltzburg Easter Festival, give the prize to Vienna Phil now?

    2. Gergiev: who’s next Anna Netrebko and the Ukraine Independent Movement?

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Let’s look at some ways to do some meaningful bashing:

    – Whoever want to bash the VPO about this prize should wait at least a few months and follow up on how they spend the money.

    – Whoever wants to bash the Herbert von Karajan prize recipients might want to check what they did with the prize.

    “The prize is ear-marked for the specific purpose of the musical development of young people.

    The Karajan Prize is not limited to controversial people. The three most recent Karajan Prize recipients were Edita Gruberova (2013), Cecilia Bartoli (2012) and Helmut Rilling (2011). Earlier recipients have included Daniel Barenboim and Alfred Brendel.

    – Whoever wants to bash the VPO about the Karajan prize, should wait to see how they use the prize money.

    – Bashing Herbert von Karajan himself is another matter. Then again, to paint Karajan in black and white is as wrong as to look at life in those terms.

  • Sixtus says:

    NL did you intend to say Eccl 1:2?

  • Greg says:

    Here, one should really look to sports. Also sportsmen are given awards now and then – but in most of the cases they will be asked to donate the money to someone who actually needs it, their childhood club or what it may be. For outsiders, prizes like this (not to mention the million dollar Birgit Nilsson prize) must seem utterly absurd. In which other industries do things like this occur?

  • David Ashbridge says:

    Thank you Petros for your considered comment with some clear perspective in response to yet another of NL’s knee-jerk headlines. We all know Norm has no intention of being fair or objective towards the VPO or any of his other pet hates come to that, so others will have to do it for him.

    Further info about the award
    The €50,000 award has been bestowed annually since 2003 upon outstanding individual artists and ensembles by the Cultural Foundation of the Baden-Baden Festival Hall.

    The VPO is an outstanding ensemble, one of the finest anywhere. Once again, it is entirely up to the donner organisation to choose who it wants to give the money to and no doubt that same organisation can and will require the recipient organisation to show how the money has been spent. I can’t for the life of me think why they haven’t given it to a music critic. I wonder if Norm has any idea why not?

    In response to others:
    That it is the Karajan Prize seems to be another reason issue forth condemnation merely at the name of Karajan. HvK’s wartime background is certainly no credit to his memory but his marriage to Anna Maria Sauest in 1942 went markedly against the grain of Nazi ideology. It is also never a good idea to citing religion or scripture as support for your position as other tenants of that same religion can be used against you. There is this little thing lurking around called forgiveness which as a general principle of most human societies past and present is employed rather than persisting with hatred. It was extended to the vast majority of the defeated following WW2 for very good reasons. If a way forward was to be made, it had to come from some form of forgiveness shown by the victors. I, and I would think many others, would include HvK in that process. He was not another Rhenhard Heydrich.

    In response to another suggestion that the money could be used to pay the royalty on Sibelius Valse Triste to permit its performance in the NYD concert, that would be a wholly inappropriate use of any part of the award. If the VPO were to use it for that then Norm, or anyone else would be justified in making negative criticism and calling to account.

    In an earlier thread, I wrote that one of the ideals of classical music is to bring people together for a greater understanding between them. It has been exemplified many times in the past, most recently in a concert given by 100 Russian musicians who clearly have as many views on Putin, Ukraine and the problems Russia faces. But they came together, put their differences aside and made music.

    In stark contrast it would appear that one of the goals of a classical music critic is drive people apart and foster age-old resentments.