The Léonie Sonning Music Prize celebrates 50 years


In spring 2009, it is 50 years since the Léonie Sonning Music Prize was awarded for the first time. On 25 May 1959, Knudåge Riisager presented the prize to Igor Stravinsky – when he said, among other things:

"As we all know, Denmark is only a small country. But it is a small country with a very large and invincible belief in the conviction that it is not might and force, but power of spirit and the strength of the fount of creativity that in the years to come with bear humanity forwards towards a more worthwhile existence. And that is why it is us who are honoured at your accepting to come and receive this prize, so we can have the opportunity to express our gratitude that your life’s work has confirmed the correctness of this conviction, this belief."

On 15-17 April 2009, the Music Foundation marked the anniversary by inviting three great composers who have received the music prize to give a concert and to discuss music.

This took place at The Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen – in the concert hall known as Studiescenen – and the three composer-days were unforgettable for all those who were there.

Per Nørgård


Per Nørgård received the music prize in 1996. 

On Wednesday, 15 April at 4pm he played his own works Grooving and Turn, after which there was a conversation between Anders Beyer and the composer.

Listen to the event here:

Sofia Gubaidulina


On Thursday, 16 April at 4pm two works by her were performed: 
At the edge of the abyss for 7 cellos and 2 aquaphones (where Sofia Gubaidulina herself played one of the aquaphones) and Mirage – the dancing sun for 8 cellists.




Those taking part were the cellists Henrik Dam Thomsen, Toke Møldrup, Jakob Kullberg, Amelia Jakobsson, Janne Fredens, Magdalena Brotsek, Tobias van der Pals and Morten Zeuthen, who had collected together the cellists and led the rehearsals. The works were conducted by Erik Jakobsson.

Afterwards Anders Beyer conversed with Sofia Gubaidulina.

Listen to the event here:

György Kurtág


György Kurtág received the music prize in 2003. 

On Friday, 17 April at 4pm this music was performed:

György Kurtág: Hipartita for solo violin played by Hiromi Kukuchi, who together with her husband Ken Hakii played the solo voices at the prize-concert, the first performance of a work commissioned by the foundation took place: György Kurtág's ... concertante ..., a moving masterpiece that has since been performed all over the world.



György Kurtág: Excerpts of Jatekok and adapted versions of Bach played on a pianino with super-mute, amplified and sound processed by the composer’s son György Kurtág.

Listen to the event here:


All three composers: Nørgård, Gubaidulina and Kurtág

in a conversation with Anders Beyer and Steen Frederiksen.

Listen to the event here: