Composer Prizes awarded to Benjamin Attahir, Naomi Pinnock and Mikel Urquiza
The Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation awards €5.6m in 2022
The 2022 international Ernst von Siemens Music Prize will be awarded to the Austrian composer
Olga Neuwirth. The award for a life in the service of music is endowed with €250,000.
The award ceremony will take place on 2nd
June 2022 in the Prinzregententheater in Munich. The
2022 Composer Prizes of €35,000 each will go to Benjamin Attahir (France), Naomi Pinnock (UK) and
Mikel Urquiza (Spain).
Olga Neuwirth to receive the 2022 Ernst von Siemens Music Prize
By awarding Olga Neuwirth the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize, the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation
honours an artist who has broken new ground with her music, who gives a new face to contemporary
music, but likewise is not afraid to confront difficult topics, to take a stand or to address grievances.
Neuwirth is one of the most influential composers of her time, who in her work has combined feminist
concerns with multimedia practices since the late 1980s.
Neuwirth’s unique musical language, which transcends all genre categorisations, stems from her great
openness to other art forms. Particularly film and video play an important role. Yet she has also repeatedly
incorporated techniques, ideas and structures from other fields into her music, such as literature,
architecture, visual arts and science as well as pop music. Exemplary here are the staging of pop culture with
her Homage à Klaus Nomi and her long-standing close collaboration with Elfriede Jelinek. Particularly in the
latter, Neuwirth has since the 1980s successfully defied the stereotypes of women perpetuated in a male-
dominated musical world. Neuwirth’s output covers traditional concert forms and music theatre as well as
installations, radio plays, film music, and photographs. Neuwirth constantly evades categorisation, by
questioning common dichotomies such as virtual/physical, analogue/digital, female/male. In doing so she has
also exposed the limits of gender attributions, especially in 2019 in her music theatre and “opus summum”
Neuwirth’s use of the broken and distorted, and her desire for “androgynous sounds” has been the basis
and principle behind her aesthetics as well as her political views since the early 1990s. Hence her works – in
how they relate to profound changes in society, the music business and politics – are often unsettling.
Of particular note is her sound/film installation for documenta 12 … miramondo multiplo …, which captures
the complex process of composing. Neuwirth describes her own work as an “Art-In-Between” due to its
hybrid, open nature.
Neuwirth has often created works for music theatre which expand and redefine perceptions of the genre.
This includes the surrealistic multimedia opera Bählamms Fest (1994/1998), in which digital vocal morphing
greatly extends the possibilities of the human voice. In 2002, she composed the multimedia opera Lost
Highway based on the film of the same name by David Lynch, thus overcoming the line between film and
opera. In 2015, Neuwirth created Le Encantadas o le avventure nel mare delle meraviglie for the
Donaueschinger Musiktage, an expansive 3D work based on the scientific-acoustic measurements of a
Venetian church, a piece which pays tribute to one of her most important role models, Luigi Nono, and the
city of Venice.
Especially when it comes to music theatre, Neuwirth’s versatile treatment of music is more than evident. In
her preoccupation with the emotional impact and the physicality of sound itself, Neuwirth presents sound’s
real-world phenomena, on the one hand, and its representational character, on the other. This approach
first took on form in her 1989 “media transfer” composition, dialogues suffisants, in which a cellist is only
linked to the percussionist, who is situated in another room, via a visual and acoustic transfer.
Neuwirth’s sound world is one of versatility and involves an unpredictability which can, at times, be brazen
or even biting. It is an expression of her personality and her world view. She has often publicly spoken out in
support of tolerance, openness and equality – in both the music world and in society at large. In doing so,
she has never held back from confrontation. Her speech “Ich lasse mich nicht wegjodeln” (I won’t be
yodelled out of existence), in which she publicly condemned the repressive cultural policies of Jörg Haider’s
Austrian Freedom Party in 2000, is well-known.
All these factors contribute decisively to Olga Neuwirth being one of the most independent and exciting
voices of our time, who stands out from her peers. She is one of the most daringly transgressive composers
in the contemporary music world.
Award ceremony to take place on 2nd June 2022 at the Prinzregententheater in Munich
The Ernst von Siemens Music Prize and the Composer Awards will be presented to their recipients on
2nd June 2022 at the Prinzregententheater in Munich. The laudatory speech for Olga Neuwirth will be given
by the Austrian author Raphaela Edelbauer. Ensemble intercontemporain will perform works by the
prizewinner under the baton of Matthias Pintscher, and the winners of the Composer Prizes will be
introduced in short film portraits.
Composer Prizes for Benjamin Attahir, Naomi Pinnock and Mikel Urquiza
The 2022 Composer Prizes worth €35,000 will go to Benjamin Attahir from France, Naomi Pinnock from the
UK and Mikel Urquiza from Spain. Further to the prize money, each composer will benefit from a high-
quality music production.
Born in 1989 in Toulouse, Benjamin Attahir studied composition with Marc-André Dalbavie, Gérard Pesson
and Pierre Boulez, violin with Ami Flammer and is also now a sought-after conductor. He possesses a
penetrating sense for the tonal and technical elements of all the instruments he uses, making his music
tactile in nature.
Naomi Pinnock was born in 1979 and grew up in the small town of Cleckheaton in West Yorkshire. She
studied composition with Harrison Birtwistle and Brian Elias in London and with Wolfgang Rihm in
Karlsruhe. The reduced nature and fragility of her sound world – especially in her vocal works – gives her
music a unique beauty which immediately touches those who hear it.
Mikel Urquiza was born in Bilbao in 1988 and studied composition with Gabriel Erkoreka and Ramon
Lazkano at the Musikene in San Sebastián, and with Gérard Pesson at the Paris Conservatoire. With a
sublime sense of virtuosity, he produces inexhaustible music pent up with energy that defies classification
and focusses on the topic of memory.
Ensemble Prizes 2022/23
Established in 2020, the Ensemble Prizes of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation support ensembles in
their artistic and structural development in a tailor-made and sustainable way. Each year, two ensembles are
awarded €75,000. In the 2021/22 season, the Board of Trustees chose to award the Ensemble Prizes to
Spółdzielnia Muzyczna from Krakow, Poland, and Explore Ensemble from London, Great Britain.
The deadline for the 2022/23 EvS Ensemble prizes is 15 March 2022:
Applications will be accepted from young, professional ensembles in the consolidation phase. The ensemble
should be focussed on the performance of contemporary music and at least two-thirds of its members
should be younger than 35
The Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation awards a total of €5.6m
Student Aid Fund
The EvS Foundation has just set an extra €2m aside to be provided by the Foundation Board to the Student
Aid Fund, which supports music students in Switzerland, Austria and Germany who are experiencing
financial difficulties due to the Corona pandemic. A total of ca. €8m has been given to this cause since
The majority of the funding, i.e. more than €3m, is to be distributed to approx. 130 contemporary music
projects worldwide. The Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation supports the commissioning of compositions
from small ensembles to choral/orchestral works across Europe: from the UK to Slovakia, from Canada to
Chile. It also enables commissions for music theatre, e.g. Sycorax from Georg Friedrich Haas at the Bühnen
Bern. Support is likewise given to concerts and festivals from Reykjavik to Prague, Milan and New York. The
Schönberg Complete Edition is to be completed with the publication of volumes 77 and 78 thanks to the
ongoing support of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation. And support is also given to various young-
composer/performer institutions, for example to the Collège Contemporain in Paris.
räsonanz – Donor concerts
The Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation provides additional funding for the räsonanz – Donor concerts.
In collaboration with Lucerne Festival and musica viva of Bavarian Radio, the Ernst von Siemens Music
Foundation enables annual concerts with internationally acclaimed orchestras and renowned soloists, who
perform the works of contemporary composers in Munich and Lucerne. The concerts will take place on 30th
August 2022 in the KKL Lucerne and on 29th September 2022 in the Prinzregententheater in Munich.
The Ernst von Siemens Music Prize (EvS Music Prize) has been awarded annually since 1973 by the privately-
run Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation (EvS Music Foundation), based in Switzerland. The prize is not
associated with either Siemens AG or their affiliated Siemens Stiftung.