27 January 2017
For the first time, the Foundation will award a total of 3.5 million euros
The 2017 International Ernst von Siemens Music Prize goes to the French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard
This award, for a life devoted to the service of music, is endowed with 250,000 euros.For the first time, however, the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation will award a total of 3.5 million euros
The prize ceremony will take place on 2 June 2017 at the Prinzregententheater in Munich
Pierre-Laurent Aimard is a shining light and an international key figure in contemporary musical life. The advisory board of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation is honouring the pianist, born in Lyon in 1957, for a life’s work literally in the service of music: ‘For me, reflecting – or rather interpreting – means serving both the music of yesterday and that of today.’ Unique in the intensity of his readings of the piano literature of all periods, Aimard’s position in the musical present is like no other: he was both a performer and a companion of numerous great figures in New Music, such as Pierre Boulez, Olivier Messiaen, Karlheinz Stockhausen, György Kurtág or György Ligeti – all recipients of the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize. The number of works he has premiered by Elliott Carter, George Benjamin, Harrison Birtwistle and Marco Stroppa, extending to the music of Tristan Murail and the pieces dedicated to him, give some idea of his enormous significance for the music of recent times. Ligeti even considered him ‘the best pianist’, someone who knew his music better than the composer himself.
Aimard’s teachers were all full of passion for New Music. His childhood teacher, Geneviève Lièvre, was already an enthusiastic devotee of the Darmstadt Summer Course, especially Boulez, and he went on to study in Paris with Yvonne Loriod, Olivier Messiaen’s wife, and then Marcia Curcio.
When he was 19, Pierre Boulez made him principal pianist of the newly-founded Ensemble intercontemporain. With its manifold tasks, the ensemble provided him with the ideal setting to intensify the interest in contemporary music that had grown inside him at an early age. Having matured as an artist, he left the ensemble in 1995 to pursue a solo career and projects of his own.
Bit by bit, he devoted increasing attention to the canonic piano repertoire from previous centuries, extending back to Bach’s music for keyboard instruments. But contemporary music always remained the central element in his repertoire.
In Aimard, the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation is honouring a pianist of light and colour who brings clarity and life to everything he plays. His unusual path from the music of the present to that of the past, his boundless joy of discovery and the meticulousness with which he devotes himself to composers ranging from Bach via Debussy to George Benjamin, make him one of the exceptional musicians of our time.
Yesterday it was announced that Pierre-Laurent Aimard is to be Artist in Residence at London’s Southbank Centre during the 2017/18 Season.