Year in music
resigned, as investigations into money laundering and
The organizers of the annual six-week-long summer
festival in Lucerne announced the closure of its two
offshoots, the Easter Festival and the Piano Festival.
At another Easter Festival, the Berlin Philharmonic’s in
Baden-Baden, the world premiere of American composer
Victoria Bond’s opera Clara, based on the life of Clara
Schumann, was enthusiastically received, and Riccardo
Muti conducted an electrifying Verdi Requiem with a
standout solo performance by Elina Garanča.
In Milan, Fabio Luisi quit as music director of the
Maggio Musicale, hard on the heels of a behind-the-scenes
power struggle over Cristiano Chiarot’s departure as the
Ukrainian baritone Andrei Kymach, 31, triumphed at
the biennial BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition,
with English soprano Katie Bray winning the Audience
Prize and Chinese tenor Mingjie Lei the Song Prize.
British composer Rebecca Saunders won the 2019 in-
ternational Ernst von Siemens prize of $282,000, the
first woman composer to win; Canadian soprano Barbara
Hannigan was awarded Denmark’s highest musical honor,
the 2020 Léonie Sonning Music Prize; Italian ensemble
Quartetto di Cremona won the Franco Buitoni Award 2019.
The inaugural Aga Khan Music Awards, which offer
an eye-watering $500,000 in prizes, were held in Lisbon,
Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter was recognized by two major artist
awards in 2019. in June she was presented Sweden’s Polar Music
Prize by H.M. King Carl XVi Gustaf. in October she received
Japan’s Praemium imperiale Award in music. Apart from her
recognition as a virtuoso fiddler, she has given the premieres
of 27 works by some of the foremost international composers.
Photo: Annika Berglund © Polar Music Prize.
Hot off her
Music Festival in
honor. Photo: ©
with the first performance award going to the blind
singer and oud player Mustafa Said. Another new award
was the government-funded China International Music
Competition, held in Beijing at the China Conservatory of
Music, where Canadian pianist Tony Siqi Yun took the top
prize of $150,000.
French pianist Alexandre Kantorow won the Tchaikovsky Piano Competition. Chinese competitor Tianxu
An won unexpected publicity and a “Special Prize for
Courage and Restraint” when the program order was
changed just before he appeared onstage but announced
only in Russian.
Violinist Anne Sophie-Mutter, Musical America’s 2011
Musician of the Year, took two stellar music awards in
2019: Sweden’s Polar Music Prize and Japan’s Praemium
Imperiale. The Carl Nielsen Competition gave top prizes to
Johan Dalene of Sweden, violin; Blaz Sparovec of Slovenia,
clarinet; and Joséphine Olech of France, flute. In Helsinki,
Swedish soprano Johanna Wallroth took top prize at the
Mirjam Helin International Singing Competition. Russian
soprano Liubov Medvedeva won the Siemens Opera
Contest at the Opéra Garnier in Paris.
It was a rich year for new concertos, with under-served
instruments getting a shot at the limelight. There were