The Birgit Nilsson Prize

Birgit Nilsson’s wish was to found a music prize that would promote the classical opera tradition. In the late '80s, a foundation was created for realizing this dream.


Plácido Domingo and the King of Sweden, H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf. © Kristian Löveborg

The Prize is awarded every second or third year, and is for international, outstanding achievement by a currently active singer in the field of opera, concert, 'Lieder' or oratorio, a currently active conductor or a music institution such as an opera company or orchestra. The Birgit Nilsson Prize is the largest prize in the history of classical music, consisting of one million US dollars. The recipient also receives a statuette of Birgit Nilsson, created by the artist couple Gustav and Ulla Kraitz.

The recipients

The first Birgit Nilsson Prize was presented in 2009 to Plácido Domingo, who had been chosen several years before by Birgit Nilsson herself. The prize was presented by H.M. Carl XVI Gustaf, at a gala at the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm on October 13. Riccardo Muti was chosen as the 2011 laureate by an international Panel of five operatic experts from the countries where Birgit Nilsson was most active during her career. The prize was presented to the recipient on October 13 at the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm by H.M. Carl XVI Gustaf. On April 9, 2014, it was announced that the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra had been awarded the Birgit Nilsson Prize. On October 8, 2014, the prize was presented to the Orchestra at Stockholms konserthus (Stockholm Concert Hall), by H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf. During the centenary, the Prize is to be awarded for the fourth time. The fourth recipient was announced on May 15, at a press conference at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm. The Swedish dramatic soprano, Nina Stemme, will be awarded the Prize on October 11, 2018, at the Royal Opera in Stockholm. Nina Stemme has been described as today's greatest opera artist and Wagnerian soprano, and is one of the world's most sought-after sopranos. For more information and photographs from the Birgit Nilsson Prize awards, visit: