Who’s got most prizes? (Clue: He’s just banked another 250k)

Who’s got most prizes? (Clue: He’s just banked another 250k)


norman lebrecht

January 29, 2015

The Times Literary Supplement runs an occasional squib about writers who are showered with prizes just for being themselves. Top of its leaders board at present are Amos Oz and Philip Roth.

In music, it’s not  much of a contest. The composer with most prizes, year on year, is the German household favourite, Wolfgang Rihm.

And the conductor?

It’s got to be…


He has just added the 250,000 Euro Ernst von Siemens prize to his bulging collection.

Cheer up, old chap. It’s tax free.

Previous Siemens winners include Herbert von Karajan, Dietrich Fischer Dieskau, Leonard Bernstein, Claudio Abbado, Henri Dutilleux, Anne-Sophie Mutter and Hans Werner Henze.


  • Christian says:

    Shhh. The world outside better not know about things like this.

  • Bill says:

    Eschenbach will certainly be needing this money in the future, as his career is in serious decline and it is a mystery that this guy is still even performing as much as he does, albeit to more often than not atrocious reviews and cat calls and boos from audiences, particularly in Vienna and Salzburg. An enigma.

  • Louise says:

    Oh, more news about the sinister Mr. Eschenbach! I agree that it is a mystery how this conductor reappears, just when you thought that he was gone forever. I lived in Philadelphia between 2004 and 2007 and suffered through three of the most pretentious, boring and musically unsatisfying years of my concert going life. Somehow, he was always able to turn a well-known, well loved piece of music into a game of self satisfying, egocentrism, pulling and twisting the music in every which way, slowing down tempos to near death and then suddenly speeding up, all with no rhyme or reason. I left before he was thrown out of the Philadelphia Orchestra, but I don’t think I could have attended another concert under his direction. It was just too unpleasant and I know that so many other audience members shared my feelings. I heard that he ended up in Washington and haven’t heard anything since, so apparently he has sort of vanished.

  • Anselm says:

    Sorry to say this, but I think that it is absolutely wrong that a monetary prize like this is given to an already wealthy, employed and not in need musician. Nothing wrong if they want to give Eschenbach a prize, but why in money? Wouldn’t it be better for all and serve the need of music to offer the prize and then ask the recipient what music school, or what scholarship they would like to create, in their name, with these funds? just handing a large sum of cash to a rich musician is in very poor taste and it is even in worse taste that Eschenbach would accept it. I don’t want to get into personal opinions about whether he deserved it or not, but I must say that I agree with others who find him an extremely unappealing musician and I never enjoyed anything I ever heard conducted by him. Still, let them give him the prize, but let him decide what needy musical institution could best make use of the money connected to it. I doubt that will ever happen and probably not with a person like Eschenbach.

  • brian from Washington says:

    Perhaps this righteous indignation about the tax free 250,000 prize would be unnecessary if Slipped Disc had done its homework and asked maestro Eschenbach what he plans to do with the money. According to Deutche Welle, he plans to give it to a foundation to promote the careers of young musicians.

  • Sara says:

    Does Master Lebrecht have a weird, sado-masochistic bone to pick with Christoph Eschenbach?. His obsession with the now elderly German conductor, shared by one or two gnashing commentators on his website, cannot be healthy. And he should not take his bizarre hatred out on Wolfgang Rihm.
    In fact, Rihm’s latest work, a piano concerto, received the highest accolades from Leprecht’s opinion-partner, Anne Midgette. Usually, Lebrecht sites her opinions. In this case, he didn’t. Anne, pay better attention!