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Riccardo Muti Awarded Birgit Nilsson Prize 2011

17 MAR 2011

published in: Opera, Concert, Whitsun, General

Conductor receives the world’s highest cash prize in the music field 

Riccardo Muti, Photo: Silvia Lelli
The Swedish Birgit Nilsson Foundation has announced that conductor Riccardo Muti has been awarded the world’s highest cash prize in the music field, one million dollars. In a first reaction, the conductor professed himself “deeply touched – not least because of my profound admiration for the unique and extraordinary artist Brigit Nilsson, both as an incomparable musician and a great interpreter”. The fact that the award is bestowed in the presence of the Swedish royal couple “gives this honor even greater meaning,” the Maestro said. The ceremony, in which King Carl XVI and Queen Silvia of Sweden award the prize, will take place on October 13, 2011.
Rutbert Reisch, President of the Birgit Nilsson Foundation, called Muti “a role model” who embodied all the qualities that were important to the award’s namesake, namely “outstanding work, devotion and passion for music over many decades”. This year’s winner was chosen by an international commission which is appointed for three years and consists of representatives from the most important countries in which Birgit Nilsson worked. The international jury includes Clemens Hellsberg, President of the Vienna Philharmonic, Eva Wagner-Pasquier, Director of the Bayreuth Festival and the British opera critic Rupert Christiansen.
Riccardo Muti’s extraordinary career was shaped by his 12 years as Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, 19 years at the helm of La Scala Milan, and his recent appointment as Chief Conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Riccardo Muti and the Salzburg Festival

For 40 years, Riccardo Muti has enjoyed a close cooperation with the Salzburg Festival. In 1971 he made his conducting debut in Salzburg with Don Pasquale. During the past season, his 200th appearance as a conductor at the Festival was celebrated. This year, he is one of the busiest artists of the Festival summer, leading eight performances of a new production of Verdi’s Macbeth and two concerts each of the Vienna Philharmonic and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Before the summer, from June 10 to 13, Riccardo Muti will lead the Salzburg Whitsun Festival for the last time: for the grand finale of the five-year program focusing on the Scuola Napoletana, his Orchestra Giovanile Luigi Cherubini and a young ensemble of singers will present Saverio Mercadante’s opera I due Figaro, a fascinating sequel to Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro.