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Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Gilberto Gil Win Sweden's $135,000 Polar Music Prize

By Ben Mattison
25 Oct 2004

Baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Brazilian singer, guitarist, and composer Gilberto Gil are the winners of the 2005 Polar Music Prize, the Royal Swedish Academy of Music announced today in Stockholm.

The 14-year-old annual prize, which is usually awarded to a classical musician and a pop or jazz musician, is the world's biggest music prize, at one million Swedish Kroners, or approximately $135,000. Founded in 1989 by Stig Anderson, the late publisher and manager for the pop group ABBA, it recognizes a lifetime of musical achievement.

Fischer-Dieskau was generally acknowledged as the world's leading performer of the German lied, with a particular command of Schubert, until he retired from performance in 1993. He continues to conduct, write, and teach.

The singer will be honored, according to the offical citation from the Academy of Music, for his "unique artistry in every area of classical singing and for his unparalleled achievements as a penetrating and innovative interpreter of art songs in the German language.”

Gil helped to found Brazil's Tropicália movement, which blended traditional bossa nova, rock, and political feeling.

In its citation of Gil, the Academy recognized "his unflinching creative engagement in bringing to the world the heart and soul of the rich music of Brazil," and called him "a unique composer powered by immense talent and curiosity. A unique musical ambassador powered by firm cultural conviction.”

Previous winners of the Polar Music Prize have included Dizzy Gillespie, Pierre Boulez, Isaac Stern, Bruce Springsteen, and Sofia Gubaidulina. The 2004 winners, blues guitarist B. B. King and composer György Ligeti, were honored at a ceremony in May. Fischer-Dieskau and Gil will receive their awards from Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf at a gala ceremony on May 23, 2005 at the Stockholm Concert Hall.




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