Prize in honour of the late Wagnerian soprano goes to the orchestra at her old stomping ground.

The Birgit Nilsson Prize of $1,000,000 has been awarded to the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, it was announced at a press conference yesterday.

The prize, endowed by the legendary Swedish Wagnerian soprano before her death in 2005, is the largest in the classical music world and, according to the terms of the fund, is “awarded approximately every three years to an active singer, conductor or institution for outstanding achievements in the field of opera or concert”.

The award has already raised a few eyebrows in the classical music world with Norman Lebrecht commenting that the money “has gone to a woman-averse orchestra the diva used to admire. Not the most sensitive of selections.” Other remarks on his Slipped Disc site include one that says “For the life of me I cannot imagine why Madame Nilsson would even want to leave her money only to those at the very top of the profession. What on earth is the point of making already mega rich performers and musical ensembles even richer? A larger number of hugely beneficial scholarships for younger, less established artists would surely have...

Access our paywalled content and archive of magazines, regular news and features for the limited offer of $3 per month. Support independent journalism.

Subscribe now or log in to continue reading.