Riccardo Muti, Zell Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, is one of this year’s winners of Japan’s Praemium Imperiale, often described as the arts equivalent of the Nobel Prize.
Established in 1989 by the Japan Art Association, that nation’s oldest cultural foundation, the awards recognize “outstanding contributions to the development, promotion and progress of the arts” in the fields of painting, sculpture, architecture, music and theater/film.
This year’s other honorees, announced July 11 by the Japan Art Association, are Pierre Alechinsky (painting), Catherine Deneuve (film), Christian de Portzamparc (architecture) and Fujiko Nakaya (sculpture). The Praemium Imperiale carries a cash prize of 15 million yen (approximately $137,000). The five will receive their honors from Japan’s Prince Masahito at a ceremony Oct. 23 in Tokyo.
Three other maestros with CSO ties have previously won the honor: Pierre Boulez, principal guest conductor from 1995 to 2006 and Helen Regenstein Conductor Emeritus from 2006 to 2016; Daniel Barenboim, music director from 1991 to 2006, and Claudio Abbado, principal guest conductor from 1982 to 1985. Other winners in the music category have been Leonard Bernstein, Mstislav Rostropovich, Ravi Shankar, Oscar Peterson, Martha Argerich, Steve Reich, Alfred Brendel, Seiji Ozawa, Plácido Domingo, Arvo Pärt, Mitsuko Uchida and Youssou N’Dour.