The 2017 International Ernst von Siemens Music Prize goes to the French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard. This award, for a life devoted to the service of music, is endowed with 250,000 euros. The prize ceremony will take place on 2 June 2017 at the Prinzregententheater in Munich. For the first time, the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation will be awarding a total of 3.5 million euros in prizes and grants – sponsoring up to 130 projects worldwide.
Pierre-Laurent Aimard is a shining light and an international key figure in contemporary musical life. The advisory board of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation is honouring the pianist, born in Lyon in 1957, for a life’s work literally in the service of music: ‘For me, reflecting – or rather interpreting – means serving both the music of yesterday and that of today.’ Unique in the intensity of his readings of the piano literature of all periods, Aimard’s position in the musical present is like no other: he was both a performer and a companion of numerous great figures in New Music, such as Pierre Boulez, Olivier Messiaen, Karlheinz Stockhausen, György Kurtág or György Ligeti – all recipients of the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize. The number of works he has premiered by Elliott Carter, George Benjamin, Harrison Birtwistle and Marco Stroppa, extending to the music of Tristan Murail and the pieces dedicated to him, give some idea of his enormous significance for the music of recent times. Ligeti even considered him ‘the best pianist’, someone who knew his music better than the composer himself. Aimard’s teachers were all full of passion for New Music. His childhood teacher, Geneviève Lièvre, was already an enthusiastic devotee of the Darmstadt Summer Course, especially Boulez, and he went on to study in Paris with Yvonne Loriod, Olivier Messiaen’s wife, and then Marcia Curcio. When he was 19, Pierre Boulez made him principal pianist of the newly-founded Ensemble intercontemporain. With its manifold tasks, the ensemble provided him with the ideal setting to intensify the interest in contemporary music that had grown inside him at an early age.
Having matured as an artist, he left the ensemble in 1995 to pursue a solo career and projects of his own. Bit by bit, he devoted increasing attention to the canonic piano repertoire from previous centuries, extending back to Bach’s music for keyboard instruments. But contemporary music always remained the central element in his repertoire. Aimard is multi-faceted not only in his interpretations, which are characterized by great technical clarity. He sees himself as a musician who plays the piano – as a soloist, chamber musician or song accompanist: ‘I love teaching and working as an artistic director. Sometimes I also conduct. I find it organic not to be trapped within one specialization.’ Outreach work is also very close to Aimard’s heart. With ambitious projects like ‘Explore the Score’, as part of the Ruhr Piano Festival, he involves himself in expanding musical outreach projects all over the world: ‘We musicians should be ambassadors for what we call “classical music” so that we can pass on a rich legacy to a new audience and younger generations. Music outreach can start with any kind of music – with Mozart, Stravinsky, Lachenmann or any music on this planet. If the outreach is done well, any music can be meaningful and become familiar to anyone, especially young people.’
In Aimard, the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation is honouring a pianist of light and colour who brings clarity and life to everything he plays. His unusual path from the music of the present to that of the past, his boundless joy of discovery and the meticulousness with which he devotes himself to composers ranging from Bach via Debussy to George Benjamin, make him one of the exceptional musicians of our time.
Prize Ceremony on 2 June 2017 at the Prinzregententheater in Munich. The Ernst von Siemens Music Prize will be awarded to Pierre-Laurent Aimard on 2 June 2017 during a musical ceremony at the Prinzregententheater in Munich. Michael Krüger, President of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts, will present this illustrious accolade. In addition, the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation will award Composers’ Prizes to three promising young composers who will be named in late February. Alongside solo pieces performed by the prizewinner himself, the Munich Chamber Orchestra will play works by the Composers’ Prize winners.
For the first time, the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation will award 3.5 million euros In total, the foundation will award over 3.5 million euros in prize money and grants. In 2017, roughly 130 projects are being sponsored worldwide in the field of contemporary music. The largest share of the support will once again go towards commissioning new compositions, but there will also be funding for festivals, concerts, publications as well as education projects. 250,000 Euros are allotted for the main prize and 35,000 for each of the Composers’ Prizes, along with the production of a portrait CD.
räsonanz – Stifterkonzerte. Together with its partners, the LUCERNE FESTIVAL and Bavarian Radio’s music viva, the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation will continue its initiative of ‘donor concerts’. The Munich räsonanz concert will take place on 1 April 2017 at the Prinzregententheater. The Mahler Chamber Orchestra and the musicAeterna Choir, conducted by Teodor Currentzis, will perform works by Vivier, Berio and Xenakis. On 8 April 2017, as part of the LUCERNE FESTIVAL’s Easter festival, Mariss Jansons will direct the Symphony Orchestra and Choir of Bavarian Radio in the Swiss premiere of Wolfgang Rihm’s Requiem-Strophen, featuring Anna Prohaska, Mojca Erdmann and Hanno Müller-Brachmann as the soloists.
The Ernst von Siemens Music Prize (EvS Music Prize) has been awarded annually since 1973 by the private Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation, based in Switzerland. It is not awarded by the Siemens company or the associated Siemens Foundation. It is therefore very important to ensure that the names of the foundation and the prize are reproduced correctly.