LSM Newswire

Friday, December 5, 2008

The late Birgit Nilsson donates biggest Prize in classical music history

The late Birgit Nilsson donates biggest Prize in classical music history

Stockholm, December 5th, 2008 The Birgit Nilsson Foundation announces today the establishment of the Birgit Nilsson Prize as the biggest prize in classical music history. It was the wish of the legendary Swedish dramatic soprano Birgit Nilsson to award outstanding achievements in the international field of opera and concert with a prize in the amount of one million dollars. The first Prize winner will be announced in 2009.

In the early eighties, towards the end of her long and distinguished career, the legendary Swedish dramatic soprano Birgit Nilsson decided to establish a foundation for a Prize to be awarded every second or third year in the amount of one million dollars for outstanding achievements by:

A singer in the field of opera and/or concert and/or oratorio

A conductor in the classical field of opera and/or concert

A specific production by an opera company, as long as this production is outstandingly cast and conducted and, most importantly, staged in the spirit of the composer.

The name of the first prize winner, chosen by Birgit Nilsson herself, is being kept in a sealed envelope until the official announcement to be made in early 2009.

According to the provisions of the Birgit Nilsson Foundation, its Council shall appoint a jury consisting of prominent figures in the classical music field for a three-year term. The jury shall give its recommendation to the Foundation Council, which will make the final decision. In keeping with Ms Nilsson's wishes, the Prize may be given to two designees, in which case the Prize is split in half. Also, the Prize may never be awarded to the same person twice.

Birgit Nilsson (19182005) was the world's leading dramatic soprano of her time, excelling in the operas of Wagner (The Ring Cycle, Tristan und Isolde Tannhuser and Lohengrin), Strauss (Salome, Elektra and Die Frau ohne Schatten), Puccini (Tosca and Turandot), Verdi (Aida, Un Ballo in Maschera and Macbeth) as well as many other operas.

During her legendary career, she performed regularly at major opera houses like

Stockholm, Bayreuth, Vienna, Milan, London, Paris, Munich, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Buenos Aires and others.

Following her debut at the Stockholm Opera in 1946, her international career began in the early fifties with debuts in Glyndebourne, Bayreuth, Vienna and Munich, to be followed by debuts in North and South America in the mid-fifties. Her opening of La Scala season 1958 as Turandot, her 1959 New York debut as Isolde at the Metropolitan Opera and her performances as Isolde and Brunhilde in Wieland Wagner's productions in Bayreuth were considered milestones in her career.

Ms. Nilsson took her farewell from the operatic stage in the role of Elektra in 1982.

Further information on the Birgit Nilsson Prize and pictures of Birgit Nilsson on

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