Violinist Gidon Kremer Wins 2023 Beethoven Prize for Human Rights
The Latvian violinist will receive €10,000 in recognition of his work in social justice and contribution through music
Founded in 2016, the Beethoven Academy has awarded its ninth International Beethoven Prize for Human Rights, Peace, Freedom, Poverty Fighting and Diversity to violinist Gidon Kremer.
The €10,000 award and “Evolute” trophy, designed by artist Dirk Wilhelm, will be presented to Kremer in an award ceremony and concert held in Bonn, Germany, on November 19, 2023,.
Also featuring cellist Mischa Maisky, protest singer Klaus the Violinist, and jazz pianist Marcus Schinkel, the concert and its proceeds will go towards the Beethoven Academy’s social justice projects.
For decades, Kremer, 76, has long held concerts and made statements against political grievances and injustice. He has organized concerts for Ukraine, a concert in Moscow for the victims of the Chechen war, and collaborated with theater director Kirill Serebrennikov, who was persecuted in Russia.
Further, his Gidon Kremer Foundation promotes emerging artists through instrument loans, scholarships, and performance opportunities, as well as supports the chamber orchestra Kremerata Baltica, which he founded in 1997, in bringing performances to socially disadvantaged people and hosting concerts in developing countries.
“You can’t stop the guns with sounds, but you can at least make the world aware that music or overtones do more for us than the sound of bombs,” Kremer told Planet Interview in 2000, as stated in the press release. “Political violence is something that disgusts me around the world and I feel it is necessary to draw attention to the fact that everyone should make a small personal effort to stop this madness.”
“I try to set my independent judgments to music every now and then, whether with the violin or with words, whether with a letter or a gesture — it’s important to me, to ensure justice,” he said in an interview with Deutschlandfunk Kultur in 2021.
Born into a musical family in Riga, Latvia, in 1947, Kremer began violin playing at age four. At 18, he studied with David Oistrakh at the Moscow Conservatory and his solo career took off in his early 20s when he won first prize at both the Paganini and Tchaikovsky International Competitions. To date, Kremer has recorded over 200 acclaimed albums.
His accolades include the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize, the 2016 Praemium Imperiale, Grand Federal Cross of Merit, Moscow Triumph Prize, UNESCO Music Prize, and the Artur Rubinstein Prize.
The Beethoven Academy was created by its current director, Torsten Schreiber, and the president of the board of trustees of the Bayreuth Young Artist Festival, Andreas Loesch, who is also a partner of the Academy; renowned pianist Martha Argerich, Kremer’s longtime collaborator, is also an Academy partner.
Previous winners of the prize include Fazıl Say (2016), Gabriela Montero (2018), Igor Levit (2019), and Maria João Pires (2021).