Blues legend B.B. King and Hungarian-born composer Gyorgy Ligeti have each been selected by the Royal Swedish Academy of Music to receive the prestigious 2004 Polar Music Prize. Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf will present the awards at a May 24 gala in Stockholm.
The citations issued by the Royal Academy today (Oct. 15) praised King for “his achievements in spreading the blues throughout the world,” which “proved of fundamental importance to the development of modern popular music.” Ligeti was given the award “for stretching the boundaries of the musically conceivable, from mind-expanding sounds to new astounding processes, in a thoroughly personal style that embodies both inquisitiveness and imagination.”
King will perform at the Stockholm Concert Hall May 22 in conjunction with the ceremony.
The Polar Music Prize was founded in 1989 by the late Stig Anderson — publisher, lyricist, and manager of ABBA — and was first awarded in 1992. Anderson donated a large sum of money to the Royal Swedish Academy of Music with the aim of creating the award, which is administered by the organization. Along with the honor, the prize includes an award of 1 million Swedish Crowns (U.S. $120,000).
Past recipients of the award include Paul McCartney, Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones, Sir Elton John, Joni Mitchell, Pierre Boulez, Bruce Springsteen, Ray Charles, Ravi Shankar, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Isaac Stern, Burt Bacharach, Robert Moog, Miriam Makeba, Sofia Gubaidulina and Keith Jarrett. For more information, visit the Polar Music Prize Web site.