World’s biggest composer’s prize goes to a Dane

World’s biggest composer’s prize goes to a Dane


norman lebrecht

November 28, 2017

The Grawemeyer Award was announced last night.

The winner is Bent Sorensen.

He takes home $100,000.

It so happens that Sorensen, 59, has a piece being premiered on Thursday by the New York Philharmonic. No-one in NY media seems to have noticed.

The award-winning piece is called ‘L’isola della Città’ – Island in the City.


Watch a clip from a documentary on Bent Sørensen from The Wire Magazine on Vimeo.


  • John Borstlap says:

    In the video, image and music are beautifully matched in meaningful beauty. When you see/hear this, you immediately feel life being worthwhile again. Especially the use of the little tractor as a profound symbol of progress is touching.

  • J. says:

    Good news, he is a great composer.

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Bent Sörensen is a very prolific composer, it is difficult for the beginner to decide what to listen to first. I would recommend his Concerto for violin and orchestra (“Sterbende Gärten”), a very touching concert piece inspired by abandoned gardens and dying flowers that won the Nordic Council Music Prize in 1996. His compositions for accordion, with or without strings, are wonderful and easily accessible. There is also a string quartet that by some mysterious reason was considered unplayable until it was discovered by the Arditti Quartet.

    • Christopher Culver says:

      I agree. That is a beautiful, moving piece. In my review of the Dacapo recording at Amazon, I called Sterbende Gärten one of the major violin concertos of recent decades, and I still hold to that. I do, however, feel that the quality of that Dacapo recording is unsatisfying; I think another label could produce a much better recording with another orchestra and soloist (paging Robert von Bahr, this seems repertoire fit for BIS).

  • David R Osborne says:

    So we are unanimous then?

    • John Borstlap says:

      Yes, in case my irony was taken at face value.

      Dying things and emptiness, as well as tractors and accordeons, are much en vogue these days and well-paid. I think there is a curious contradiction between negative, nihilistic subjects in music and their happy rewarding, as if prize committee members think: ‘Wow! Another blow to our existence… we should encourage such things.’