Léonie Sonning Awards 1983

Rafael Kubelik

The conductor Rafael Kubelik received the Léonie Sonning Music Prize of DKK 100,000 at a concert held at 8pm on 17 June 1983 in Radiohusets Koncertsal.

The music prize was presented by Professor Poul Birkelund.

The programme

Antonin Dvorak In Nature’s Realm. Overture, op. 91
Leos Janácek Taras Bulba
Carl Nielsen Symphony no. 5, op. 50

Danish National Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Rafael Kubelik


The Léonie Sonning Music Prize is hereby awarded to Rafael Kubelik with the sum of DKK 100,000. In recognition of his contribution as a versatile musician and international career as a conductor at the highest level.

Event in connection with the award of the music prize

Orchestral seminar with the Combined Orchestra of the Danish Academies of Music. Programme: Smetana, Nielsen and Dvorak. The seminar concluded with a concert in Tivoli on Monday, 20 June 1983 at 7.30pm.

Rafael Kubelik and Denmark

With the conductor Rafael Kubelik one had once more a recipient with a strong relation to Denmark – and an artist known and loved by Danes interested in music. For thirty-five years the Czech refugee had come and gone as guest conductor for the Danish National Symphony Orchestra – and many attempts were made to persuade him to become its chief conductor.

From 1953 to 1958, Kubelik conducted seven concerts with Danish National Symphony Orchestra. A concert with Kubelik recalls past days with Fritz Busch [...] he gets his orchestra to sing with complete naturalness Flemming Weiss wrote on 24 February 1955 in Nationaltidende, and Ekstrabladet’s Jürgen Balzer wrote that "he brings to the playing of the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra an increased sensitivity and a new will to do its utmost. 10-12 concerts a year with him would take this our best orchestra into the top flight of orchestras."

During the 1950s and 1960s, Kubelik was on the point of becoming ‘part of the furniture’ in the consciousness of the orchestra – he was also made a Knight of the Dannebrog, by the way. In the years from 1957 to 1963 he conducted no less than 15 concerts with the orchestra, concerts that include four of Bruckner’s symphonies, Brahms, Beethoven, Mahler’s 9th symphony, Carl Nielsen’s violin concerto and, of course, a number of works by Dvorak, Smetana, Martinu and Janácek.

Selected Music by Rafael Kubelik

The daily press

wrote, among other things:

"This is the fourth time Kubelik has conducted this Nielsen symphony for Danmarks Radio, and his involvement in the work is utterly gripping. I sensed his attitude towards this brilliant masterpiece as architecturally serene. The symphony contains the widest contrasts we meet anywhere in Carl Nielsen’s entire oeuvre, and it is marvellous how Kubelik is able to calculate the climaxes in this universe of pain and jubilation [...]

The orchestra at this special concert played up to the maestro, and the strings sang with a rare beauty."

(Robert Naur, Politiken, 18 June 1983)

"[…] One was overwhelmed, on the other hand, by Carl Nielsen, engulfed at any rate by the first movement of his Fifth Symphony, realised in a spellbinding arc of tension, with violent clashes and a violent triumph as its culmination, exciting precisely because of the sedate pace the Kubelik retained in his wonderful structuring [...]"

(Hansgeorg Lenz, Information, 20 June 1983)

"Time somehow stood still in this concert. It was not a sensation one was witnessing but an event where everything was brimful of warm humanism and noble musicianship. It made one think of Furtwängler. If this prize-giving ceremony were to have a motto, it cannot be other than: musical devotion, above all. Seen in this light, it was the right person who received the prize."

(Erik Damberg, Jyllands-Posten, 19 June 1983)