Opus Klassik Awards Launch in Germany as Successor to the Retired Echo

Jens Kalaene/picture alliance via Getty Images
Benny Andersson, Thomas Gottschalk and Diana Damrau during a press event before the "Opus Klassik" music award ceremony on Oct.14, 2018.

The newly founded society for the promotion of classical music raised the curtain on the German Opus Klassik awards Sunday night in the Konzerthaus at the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin. Members of the fledgling society include labels, promoters, publishers and personalities of the German classical scene. Opus is the successor of the former Echo Klassik award that was abolished by the German music industry in the wake of a highly publicized anti-Semitism scandal involving winners of the mainstream Echo Awards.

The new awards will underline the independence of the decisions coming from the jury. From now on, nominees will be presented to the jury, which will make the decisions independently from other sources.

Winners of the first Opus Klassik included Diana Damrau (Erato/Warner Music) as female singer of the year, Juan Diego Florez (Sony Classical/Sony Music) male singer of the year, Daniil Trifonov (Deutsche Grammophon/Universal) in the category Instrumentalist of the year ( piano) and Cornelius Meister (Capriccio/Naxos) as conductor of the year.

Benny Andersson, member of the Swedish pop/rock legends ABBA, received the award "Classic beyond borders." German singer Christa Ludwig got the lifetime achievement award. During the show the Spanisch singer Montserrat Caballé, who died recently, was remembered.

Frank Briegmann, president & CEO Universal Music Central Europe and Deutsche Grammophon, was very pleased about the event and its success and said to Billboard: "Congratulations to our award winners on their outstanding recordings and the recognition they have received. They are proof that, even as we approach 120 years since the foundation of Deutsche Grammophon, classical music has lost none of its appeal and relevance. I also want to compliment the Opus Klassik team on the successful premiere, and many thanks to our media partner ZDF for this splendid event."

Added Bernd Dopp, chairman & CEO Warner Music Central Europe: "This year's event at the historic Konzerthaus was brimming with a jubilant joie de vivre - a remarkable celebration of finest classical music. To be recognized with the Opus Klassik is incredibly humbling but speaks of the tremendous talent and success of the artists we have here at Warner Classics."

Burkhard Glashoff, CEO of the society for the promotion of classical music, congratulated all winners: "Behind each work that we can award there is talent, passion, work and enthusiasm of the audience. With the award of the Opus Klassik  the society for the promotion of classical music, give again this year the artists of classical music a platform and the honor they deserve."

The Sunday event was recorded and later broadcast by the German TV channel ZDF, with Thomas Gottschalk hosting. The Opus Klassik is the successor of the ECHO Klassik. It is also a jury award, but not only depending on the turnover figures but namely on a jury that weighs the named nominees.

The association of the German record industry (BVMI) reported last week that in 2017 classic fans were less eager to buy than the year before. Music companies could only make 80 percent of the turnover of the previous year (-20.5%) being 56 million euro. On the other hand classic via music-streaming past year had a stronger demand -- 8 percent of the classic sales were made this way, up 3 percent.