Italian conductor and Belgian composer to share Wolf Prize in the Arts

Maestro Giya Kancheli, 72, is cited as "one of the world's greatest composers whose unique music is infused with unforgettable beauty."

kancheli 88 (photo credit: )
kancheli 88
(photo credit: )
Two musical septuagenarians, Italian conductor Claudio Abbado and Georgia-born composer Giya Kancheli of Belgium, will share the $100,000 Wolf Prize for the Arts, Education Minister and Wolf Prize Foundation chairman Yuli Tamir announced Monday. The Wolf Prizes in Mathematics and Agriculture will be announced next week, while all the winners, including those in medicine and physics, who were notified last week, will receive their awards from President Shimon Peres in the Knesset on May 25. Maestro Claudio Abbado, 74, is "one of the world's pre-eminent conductors, a remarkable human being whose music-making is imbued with passion, intellect and love. Abbado's interpretations of great musical works expose incredible depths," the prize jury said. Born in Milan, Abbado made his debut in 1960 at the La Scala Opera House, where he served as music director from 1968 to 1986. He appeared for the first time with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in 1965 and served as music director of the Vienna State Opera from 1986 to 1991. "Abbado brought Milan's La Scala Opera and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra to new heights. An exceptional conductor, he has nurtured and promoted the immense musical talent of the younger generation," said the jury. Abbado also established, developed, and brought to public attention, the Mahler Youth Orchestra and the European Community Youth Orchestra, transforming them into two of the world's most extraordinary orchestras. Maestro Giya Kancheli, 72, is cited as "one of the world's greatest composers whose unique music is infused with unforgettable beauty." Born in Tbilisi, Georgia, Kancheli has served as music director at the Rustaveli Theater in Tbilisi. From 1995 to 1996, he was composer-in-residence to the Royal Flanders Philharmonic in Antwerp, and has since resided in Belgium. "His remarkable symphonies alternate between surrealistic serenity and an almost violent outburst of intensity. Kancheli's music expresses the full range of human emotions, from deep religiosity to effusive passion and from optimism to pessimism. His music connects between an aura of mysticism and realistic depictions," stated the international jury. "Through his music, of immense depths, Kancheli has become a source of worldwide influence, most especially on the younger generation of composers," the jury said. The Israel-based Wolf Foundation was established by the late German-born Jewish inventor, diplomat and philanthropist Dr. Ricardo Wolf, who died in 1981. Five annual Wolf Prizes have been awarded since 1978, to outstanding scientists and artists "for achievements in the interest of mankind and friendly relations among peoples." Until now, a total of 241 scientists and artists from 22 countries have been honored.