The prizes are awarded by the Association under the honorary patronage of SAI Prince Hitachi, younger brother of the Emperor Emeritus of Japan. They are awarded in the fields of painting, sculpture, architecture, music and theatre/film – fields of cultural activity not represented by the Nobel Prizes. Each winner receives a prize of 15 million yen, or around £100,000.
This recognition is the latest in a long line of accolades for Zimerman, who began his career with a series of first prizes – at the 1974 Prokofiev Competition and the 1975 International Chopin Piano Competition, both in his native Poland.
The Praemium Imperiale award comes as Zimerman celebrates the 140th birthday of fellow Polish composer Karol Szymanowski. Zimerman has completed a new recording of the latter’s piano works, released on the Deutsche Grammophon label earlier this year. Karol Szymanowski: Piano Works presents a selection of mazurkas and masks spanning some 25 years of Szymanowski’s career, from 1899 to the mid-1920s.
Throughout his career, Zimerman has recorded and performed with many of the greatest conductors, including Herbert von Karajan, Leonard Bernstein and Seiji Ozawa. Recently, he marked the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth by recording the composer’s five piano concertos with Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra: we awarded the cycle five stars.
Elsewhere, Zimerman marked the 150th anniversary of the death of fellow countryman Frédéric Chopin by forming the Polish Festival Orchestra. This ensemble brought together talented Polish musicians for a focus on their greatest national composer. The orchestra recorded Chopin’s two piano concertos for DG, with Zimerman conducting the piano.
Other recipients of the Praemium Imperiale include Chinese artist, activist and filmmaker Ai Weiwei, perhaps best known for his 2010 works. Sun-flower seeds. A display of 100 million hand-painted and painted porcelain sunflower seeds, the artwork memorably filled the vast Turbine Hall at Tate Modern.
German filmmaker Wim Wenders also received this year’s award, whose multi-award-winning feature films have included Paris, Texas, wings of desire and the Oscar nominee Buena Vista Social Club.
There is also a Young Artists Grant 2022, awarded to the Foundation of the Kronberg Academythe German Chamber Music Academy which provides advanced training for exceptionally gifted young violinists, violas, cellos and piano players.
The Academy was founded in 1993 by Marta Casals Istomin – widow of the great Pablo Casals, one of the greatest cellists of all time – with cellists Raimund Trenkler and Mstislav Rostropovich.
Today it regularly hosts world-renowned musicians such as Gidon Kremer, András Schiff and Daniel Barenboim as special speakers. The Academy’s new concert hall, the Casals forumopens September 23, 2022.
Lord Patten of Barnes, International Advisor to Praemium Imperiale in the UK, said: “In these deeply polarized times, the ability of artists to capture attention, inspire thought and provide solace is more crucial than ever. Praemium Imperiale bears witness to the important contribution that Japan has made by honoring artistic achievements.