Kronos Quartet and Patti Smith named 2011 Polar Prize Winners

The winners of the Polar Music Prize Award for 2011, Kronos Quartet and Patti Smith, were announced on May 3, 2011, at the Stockholm City Hall. Each recipient receives a total amount of one million Swedish Crowns (SEK) which is equivalent to approximately USD $165,101 or EUR €111,706. Below are the award committee’s citations.


Patti Smith citation:

By devoting her life to art in all its forms, Patti Smith has demonstrated how much rock’n'roll there is in poetry and how much poetry there is in rock’n'roll. Patti Smith is a Rimbaud with Marshall amps. She has transformed the way an entire generation looks, thinks and dreams. With her inimitable soul of an artist, Patti Smith proves over and over again that people have the power.

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Photo by Jay Blakesberg

Kronos Quartet citation:

For almost 40 years, the Kronos Quartet has been revolutionizing the potential of the string quartet genre when it comes to both style and content. The same type of chamber music ensemble—two violins, a viola and a cello—for which Mozart and Beethoven wrote can also be used to comment on international politics, interpret avant-garde rock and incorporate music from every corner of the world.

[Ed note: The Kronos Quartet has also just been named the recipient of the Avery Fisher Prize, awarded for outstanding achievement and excellence in music.]

The laureates will receive the prize from His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden at a gala ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall to be followed by a celebratory banquet at Grand Hôtel on August 30, 2011. The ceremony will be broadcast live on national television (TV4). Later in the evening, a summary of the ceremony and the banquet will also be broadcast.

The Polar Music Prize was founded in 1989 by the late Stig “Stikkan” Anderson, a legend in the history of Swedish popular music. Anderson was the publisher, lyricist, and manager of ABBA, and he played a key role in their enormous success. The name of the prize stems from Anderson’s record label, Polar Music. The Polar Music Prize is an international music prize which is awarded to individuals, groups, or institutions in recognition of exceptional achievements in the creation and advancement of music. Each year the prize is awarded to two laureates in order to celebrate music in all its various forms and to emphasize the prize’s original intention: To break down musical boundaries by bringing together people from all the different worlds of music.

The board of the Polar Music Prize Foundation consists of representatives from the Stig Anderson family, SKAP (The Swedish Society of Popular Music Composers), and STIM (The Swedish Performing Rights Society). The Polar Music Award Committee, which scrutinizes submitted nominations and selects the ultimate laureates, is comprised of internationally renowned artists and musicians as well as other key figures in the Swedish music industry.

Past Polar Music Prize laureates include José Antonio Abreu and El Sistema, Burt Bacharach, Björk, Pierre Boulez, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Eric Ericson, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Renée Fleming, Peter Gabriel, Valery Gergiev, Gilberto Gil, Dizzy Gillespie, Sofia Gubaidulina, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Keith Jarrett, Sir Elton John, Quincy Jones, B.B. King, Led Zeppelin, György Ligeti, Witold Lutoslawski, Miriam Makeba, Sir Paul McCartney, Joni Mitchell, Robert Moog, Ennio Morricone, Pink Floyd, Steve Reich, Sonny Rollins, Mstislav Rostropovich, Ravi Shankar, Bruce Springsteen, Isaac Stern, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Stevie Wonder, and Iannis Xenakis, plus the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) which were awarded the prize in 1992 to encourage them in their work for the protection of copyright.

(—from the press release)

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