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Knussen Awarded Nemmers Composition Prize

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April 24, 2006 | by Judy Moore

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The Northwestern University School of Music today (April 24) announced that British composer Oliver Knussen is the 2006 winner of the $100,000 Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Musical Composition.

The biennial award honors classical music composers of outstanding achievement who have significantly affected the field of composition. The inaugural winner in 2004 was John Adams.

Knussen was cited by the selection committee for “his uniquely focused, vibrantly varied music and his total embrace - as a profoundly influential composer, conductor and educator - of today's musical culture.”

As winner of the 2006 Nemmers Prize, Knussen receives a cash award of $100,000 and a performance of one of his works by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra during the 2007-08 season. He also will serve a residency at Northwestern University's School of Music.

Knussen said, “I am thrilled to be named recipient of the second Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Musical Composition, and would like to thank all concerned for this great and generous honor. I look forward particularly to developing a fruitful collaboration with the students and faculty of the Northwestern University School of Music, which I have visited in the past with pleasure, and to broadening my acquaintance with the extraordinary cultural resources of the Chicago area - a place which was, for many years, my maternal family's home.”

School of Music Dean Toni-Marie Montgomery said, “Oliver Knussen has impacted the field of composition from almost every perspective. His compositional output shows the highest standards of imagination and creativity, and he has passionately championed the cause of new music as a mentor and conductor.” 

The anonymous, three-member Nemmers Prize committee that selected Knussen comprised individuals of widely recognized stature in the international music community.

The Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Musical Composition is made possible through a generous gift from the late Erwin E. Nemmers and Frederic E. Nemmers, who in 1994 enabled the creation of the Erwin Plein Nemmers Prize in Economics and the Frederic Esser Nemmers Prize in Mathematics, leading awards in those fields.