Self-taught Greek composer wins 400,000 Euro prize

Self-taught Greek composer wins 400,000 Euro prize


norman lebrecht

February 12, 2016

Georges Aperghis, 70, has been awarded the 2016 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Contemporary Music category for ‘reinventing musical theatre and taking it in entirely new directions’.

The citation states: ‘He has opened up a unique path in the territory of musical theatre employing new scenic devices whereby everything becomes music, starting from the performer’s gestures and including sounds made by scenic elements or objects used as percussion instruments.’

Athens-born, living in Paris since 1962, Aperghis was inspired by Xenakis and musique concrète. In 1976, he co-founded with his wife, the actress Edith Scob the Atelier Théâtre et Musique (ATEM), where musicians acted and actors played. Among 20 works he wrote for ATEM are Jojo (1990), Sextuor (1993) and Commentaires (1996). Last year, Aperghis was honoured with the Lion d’Or at the Venice Biennale. His star is in the ascendant.



The BBVA jury was chaired by Philippe Albèra, Director of Éditions Contrechamps, with Ranko Markovic, professor of music at Zurich University of the ArtsWinrich Hopp, Artistic Director of Musikfest Berlin; Martin Kaltenecker, musicologist at Université Paris Diderot; Tilman Kuttenkeuler, intendant of Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin; Paolo Pinamonti, Director of Teatro di San Carlo, Naples; Gianni Possio, Professor at Milan Conservatory; Massimo Acanfora Torrefranca, professor in The Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya (Israel); and Dimitri Vassilakis, pianist of Ensemble Intercontemporain (France).



  • John Borstlap says:

    As we know, science and art are two very different things, but scientifically-inclined organizations are the last to notice. No wonder, then, that a club like this BBVA (Baptistery for the Benefit of the Vandalism of Art) are under the impression that a mental illness, named after an artist (asperghes syndrome), deserves an award, especially if the syndrome is recognized and supported by the Institute for the Research of Crazy Anomalies in Males (IRCAM):

    • Petros LInardos says:

      I will not question your aesthetic viewpoint, but kindly ask you not to inadvertently spread false information about Asperger’s Syndrome.

      Asperger’s syndrome is not a mental illness. It is a type of pervasive developmental disorder (PDD). PDDs are a group of conditions that involve delays in the development of many basic skills, most notably the ability to socialize with others, to communicate, and to use imagination.

      Tim Page is a well known person with Aspergers, and there is a lot to appreciate in his work.

      • John Borstlap says:

        Thank you for the information. I was using the term metaphorically…. and definitely not seriously. This award is, by all means, not a serious matter, so….

  • Webster Young says:

    Why are “new directions” such a shibboleth in arts awards? A person who continually goes in new directions will never get where he is going. Its time for some sifting of all the new stuff, codification, formation of a “practice” – in short, a resting place of value, where positive general accomplishment that can be built upon.