Léonie Sonning Music Prize

The Léonie Sonning Music Prize, or Sonning Award, which is recognized as Denmark's highest musical honor, is given annually to an international composer or musician.[1] It was first awarded in 1959 to composer Igor Stravinsky.[2] Laureates are now selected by the directors of The Léonie Sonning Music Foundation, which was founded in 1965.[3]

Léonie Sonning Music Prize
Awarded for"internationally recognised composer, musician, conductor or singer"
Sponsored byThe Léonie Sonning Music Foundation
First awarded1959

The diploma is in Danish, and the prize includes EUR 133,000 (US$ 146,400) and a monotype by the Danish painter Maja Lisa Engelhardt. Honorees are treated to a concert, typically held in Copenhagen, and are often invited to teach a master class of Danish musicians.

The award is not directly related to the Sonning Prize, which is the Danish award presented by a foundation in memory of Sonning's late husband, Carl Johan Sonning [da].


Year Laureate Country Notes
1959 Igor Stravinsky   Soviet Union [2]
1965 Leonard Bernstein   United States [4][5]
1966 Birgit Nilsson   Sweden [6][7]
1967 Witold Lutosławski   Poland [8][9]
1968 Benjamin Britten   United Kingdom [10]
1969 Boris Christoff   Bulgaria
1970 Sergiu Celibidache   Romania
1971 Arthur Rubinstein   Poland/  United States
1972 Yehudi Menuhin   United States
1973 Dmitri Shostakovich   Soviet Union
1974 Andrés Segovia   Spain
1975 Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau   West Germany
1976 Mogens Wöldike   Denmark
1977 Olivier Messiaen   France
1978 Jean-Pierre Rampal   France
1979 Janet Baker   United Kingdom
1980 Marie-Claire Alain   France
1981 Mstislav Rostropovich   Soviet Union
1982 Isaac Stern   United States
1983 Rafael Kubelík   Czechoslovakia
1984 Miles Davis   United States
1985 Pierre Boulez   France
1986 Sviatoslav Richter   Soviet Union
1987 Heinz Holliger   Switzerland
1988 Peter Schreier   East Germany [3]
1989 Gidon Kremer   Soviet Union
1990 György Ligeti   Hungary/  Austria
1991 Eric Ericson   Sweden
1992 Georg Solti   Hungary/  United Kingdom
1993 Nikolaus Harnoncourt   Austria
1994 Krystian Zimerman   Poland
1995 Yuri Bashmet   Russia
1996 Per Nørgård   Denmark
1997 Andras Schiff   Hungary/  United Kingdom
1998 Hildegard Behrens   Germany
1999 Sofia Gubaidulina   Russia
2000 Michala Petri   Denmark
2001 Anne-Sophie Mutter   Germany
2002 Alfred Brendel   Austria
2003 György Kurtág   Hungary
2004 Keith Jarrett   United States
2005 John Eliot Gardiner   United Kingdom
2006 Yo-Yo Ma   United States
2007 Lars Ulrik Mortensen   Denmark
2008 Arvo Pärt   Estonia
2009 Daniel Barenboim   Argentina
2010 Cecilia Bartoli   Italy
2011 Kaija Saariaho   Finland
2012 Jordi Savall   Spain
2013 Simon Rattle   United Kingdom
2014 Martin Fröst   Sweden
2015 Thomas Adès   United Kingdom
2016 Herbert Blomstedt   Sweden
2017 Leonidas Kavakos   Greece [11]
2018 Mariss Jansons   Latvia [12]
2019 Hans Abrahamsen   Denmark [13]
2020 Barbara Hannigan   Canada [14]
2021 Unsuk Chin   South Korea [15]
2022 Pierre-Laurent Aimard   France [16]
2023 Evelyn Glennie   Scotland [17]


  1. ^ Wasserman, P.; McLean, J.W.; Gale Research Company (1995). Awards, Honors, and Prizes. Gale Research Company. p. 121. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  2. ^ a b Britten, B.; Kildea, P.F. (2003). On Music. Oxford University Press. p. 315. ISBN 978-0-19-816714-3. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  3. ^ a b NOMUS (Organization) (1990). Nordic Sounds. NOMUS. p. 9. Retrieved 29 April 2018. Schreier marked the twenty-fifth presentation of the prize, but actually more than 25 years of its existence inasmuch as an extraordinary award was made to Igor Stravinsky in 1959, before the Sonning Trust had been formally established. This happened in 1965, ... Since 1965 the prize has been presented every year on a date as near as possible to May 30, which was the wedding anniversary of Léonie Sonning and her husband Carl JohanSonning. The statutes stipulate that the ...
  4. ^ Reed, P.H. (1965). The American Record Guide. Helen Dwight Reid Educational Foundation. p. 18. Retrieved 29 April 2018. On the evening of May 17th Leonard Bernstein was awarded the Leonie Sonning Music Prize in recognition of his efforts on behalf of Carl Nielsen. The ceremony took place during a concert I attended at the 18th-century Odd Fellow Palace in Copenhagen, in whose wonderful old concert hall Nielsen himself had conducted many a premiere of his works. It had been agreed that, in coming to Copenhagen to accept the prize, ...
  5. ^ Theatre in Denmark. Danish Centre of the I.T.I. 1966. Retrieved 29 April 2018. ... the Royal Danish Ballet and Music Festival at the end of May, and besides the Royal Theatre's production of his opera "Maskerade", which had not been performed for 15 years, the main event was a concert, including Carl Nielsen's 3rd Symphony, performed by the Royal Orchester, conducted for the first time by Leonard Bernstein and recorded during his stay in Copenhagen. The formal object of Mr. Bernstein's visit to Copenhagen was to receive the Leonie Sonning Musical Prize.
  6. ^ Leach, H.G.; American-Scandinavian Foundation (1966). The American-Scandinavian Review. American-Scandinavian Foundation. p. 203. Retrieved 29 April 2018. The Leonie Sonning Prize for 1966 was recently awarded the Swedish singer Birgit Nilsson. The amount of the Prize is 50,000 Danish kroner. The Leonie Sonning Prize was awarded for the first time in 1959, with Igor Stravinsky being the recipient. The 1965 winner was conductor Leonard Bernstein.
  7. ^ Theatre in Denmark. Danish Centre of the I.T.I. 1966. p. 3. Retrieved 29 April 2018. This year's Leonie Sonning Music Prize was given to Birgit Nilsson, who visited The Royal Theatre on May 17th, 1966, for a guest performance in "Fidelio". Birgit Nilsson honoured yong Danish singers by donating her salary for this performance to be used as a scholarship for two young female singers.
  8. ^ Stucky, S. (1981). Lutoslawski and His Music. Cambridge University Press. p. 89. ISBN 978-0-521-22799-5. Retrieved 29 April 2018. In 1967 he received the Gottfried von Herder Prize from the University of Vienna, and in August of that year he was given the Leonie Sonning Prize in Copenhagen 'in recognition and admiration of his mastery as a composer, which is a source of inspiration to the musical life of our age'. The award was presented at an all- Lutoslawski concert as part of the Royal Danish Festival of Music and Ballet celebrating the 800th anniversary of Copenhagen's founding.
  9. ^ Erhardt, L. (1975). Music in Poland. Interpress Publishers. p. 139. Retrieved 29 April 2018. The year 1967 again put Witold Lutoslawski in the news when he received the coveted Leonie Sonning Award "in recognition and admiration of his masterly compositional virtuosity which is a source of inspiration to the musical life of our times".
  10. ^ Avis-Årbogen (in Danish). J.H. Schultz. 1968. p. 93. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  11. ^ "Violinist Leonidas Kavakos wins Léonie Sonning Music Prize 2017". The Strad. London. 27 January 2016. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  12. ^ "Conductor Mariss Jansons Awarded Prestigious €100,000 Danish Bursary". The World's Leading Classical Music News Source. Est 2009. 21 April 2017. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  13. ^ Pedersen, Karen Lerbech (30 January 2018). "Dansk kunstner modtager kæmpepris: Jeg er beæret og rystet i min grundvold!". DR (in Danish). Archived from the original on 31 January 2018. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  14. ^ Vincent, Michael (1 February 2019). "Barbara Hannigan Awarded Denmark's Highest Classical Music Honour". ludwig van. Toronto. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  15. ^ Seung-hyun, Song (30 January 2020). "Chin Un-suk wins Leonie Sonning Music Prize 2021". The Korea Herald. Seoul. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  16. ^ "Pierre-Laurent Aimard receives the Léonie Sonning Music Prize 2022". Pizzicato (in Italian). 26 January 2022. Retrieved 29 May 2022.
  17. ^ "Evelyn Glennie receives Léonie Sonning Music Prize 2023". Gramophone. 30 November 2022. Retrieved 10 December 2022.

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