All shall have prizes, from Yannick to Anna

All shall have prizes, from Yannick to Anna


norman lebrecht

May 23, 2018

The state of Hesse has awarded Yannick Nézet-Séguin the Rheingau Musik Preis 2018, worth 10,000 Euros.

The Netrebkos have been gonged by Azerbaijan. Yusif has been named People’s Artist of Azerbaijan by President Ilham Aliyev and Anna was awarded the Order of Friendship for strengthening relations with Russia.

The German Film Music Award will go this year to a British composer, Rachel Portman.

The $30k Solti grant has gone to a Minnesota baton.

The Swiss federal ministry for culture has given its SFr 25,000 Grand Prize to a jazz pianist, Irene Schweizer. Lesser winners include the composers Dieter Ammann and Thomas Kessler, the lutenist Luca Pianca and the Mondrian Ensemble.



  • AMetFan says:

    Will someone please tell me why why why are monetary prizes given to wealthy (at least with 7-figure salaries) artists? Isn’t the honor alone sufficient at their level of fame and fortune? I know that many successful artists (Domingo for example) re-direct these cash prizes to related charities, but is that the general expectation? I’m not talking about early career artists or even those in nearly always precarious financial situations (composers, poets), but highly successful, established and well-compensated artists for whom recognition is always welcome but further financial enrichment is not necessary, no matter how well-intentioned. Just curious.

    • Bruce says:

      On another one of these “famous musician gets big money” stories, someone posted the opinion that the decision-makers must enjoy the thrill of seeing the name of their prize next to the name of a famous artist; or maybe it gives them confidence in their own acumen when they recognize the excellence of an artist whose excellence has already been evidenced by career success.

      It’s certainly much less risky than recognizing the excellence of someone who isn’t famous yet (and might not ever be).

      Personally I like the idea behind the Gilmore Artist Award (, which is non-competitive and simply sends the message “this is someone we consider it worthwhile to encourage.” If you look at the list of winners, some of them are household names and some of them are not. The ones who are better known (Andsnes, Anderszewski) have never been known as “boring competition-winners,” which makes me more interested in hearing the less-famous ones. (By contrast, I’ve heard several Cliburn winners and felt very little curiosity to hear more Cliburn winners.)

      As for giving prizes to people who are already famous, I really like the idea of prizes where the winner’s job is to distribute the prize money to artists & companies s/he thinks are worthwhile. (Perlman won such an award recently — the name of it escapes me.) It’s a good way to channel money to people or groups who need it, with the added splash of publicity that comes with “Perlman thinks we’re good! Come to our concert and find out why!”

      • Sue says:

        I would have much preferred the prize to go to a person with a triple minority status (say a black Jewish transgender) from a third world country. That would have pleased many people here on SD.

    • Ben says:

      “Will someone please tell me why why why are monetary prizes given to wealthy”

      Prizes are rewards, not financial aids.

      Just like lottery jackpots typically go to blue collar workers (most of them total idiots who managed to go bankrupt eventually).

      • AMetFan says:

        That’s fair. However, their (often substantial) salaries should be their rewards for a job well done. Those monetary prizes could be better utilized to nurture the artforms. That’s why I have always had great respect for the MacArthur Fellows Program. These grants are not rewards for past accomplishment, but rather an investment in a person’s originality, insight, and potential (in any field, not just the arts).

      • Fan says:

        Do give us numbers on how many blue collar workers are idiots and how many of them went bankrupt after winning big prizes, Ok?

  • AMETFAN says:

    Easy to Google many sad cases. Probably not a great percentage of lottery winners, but enough to provide cautionary tales.

    Here’s one list.

    Greed sums it all up.