Italian conductor Riccardo Muti won the $1 million Birgit Nilsson Prize, the biggest prize in classical music.
Muti, who is 69, is currently the director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and has been recognized for “his extraordinary contributions in opera and concert.”
The jury said: “Maestro Muti is being recognized for his extraordinary contributions in opera and concert, as well as his enormous influence in the music world both on and off the stage.”
Muti is the second recipient of the prize awarded by a foundation after the death of Birgit Nilsson. Birgit Nilsson (1918-2005), the celebrated Swedish dramatic soprano who specialized in operatic and symphonic works. Her voice was noted for its overwhelming force, power and clarity of the upper register. Nilsson was also famous for her hilarious one-liners. When asked what was the most important requirement for a soprano to sing Isolde, Nilsson said, "a comfortable pair of shoes." When Nilsson was asked if she thought Joan Sutherland's famous bouffant hairdo was real, she answered, "I don't know. I haven't pulled it yet."