Wednesday 28 October 2020

Jewish Museum Berlin to award Igor Levit & Madeleine Albright annual Prize for Understanding and Tolerance

Igor Levit (Photo Felix Broede/Sony Classical)
Igor Levit (Photo Felix Broede/Sony Classical)

Since 2002, the Jewish Museum Berlin has presented its annual Prize for Understanding and Tolerance to individuals from business, culture, and politics who have rendered outstanding service in the interest of promoting human dignity, international understanding, the integration of minorities, and the coexistence of different religions and cultures. 

This year, there will be no gala dinner, but on Saturday 31 October 2020, the director of the museum, Hetty Berg, will present the prize to  former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and the pianist Igor Levit.

Regarding the selection of Igor Levit, the jury's statement says, 'Igor Levit sees no boundaries between aesthetics and everyday life, between music and social engagement. The pianist not only criticizes the customary apolitical contextualization of classical music, he himself is among the most important political voices of his generation. With bold statements, he positions himself clearly against racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and misogyny. Nor does he allow himself to be driven off course in his engagement, although he is the object of hostility and threats because of it. For Igor Levit, it is also essential to show solidarity in his artistic activities. In spring of this year, he streamed over 50 "house concerts" amidst the corona pandemic, a gesture of togetherness.' 

Earlier this month, for his cultural engagement during lockdown, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier honoured Igor Levit with the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. And Levit's experience of lockdown led directly to his most recent disc, Encounter on Sony Classical, with a programme of which includes rarely played arrangements of Bach and Brahms by Ferruccio Busoni and Max Reger including some of Brahms' final works, as well as Palais de Mari, Morton Feldman’s final work for piano.

Madeleine Albright, of course, needs little introduction, she was US Ambassador to the United Nations and from 1997 to 2001 under President Bill Clinton, she was the first female U.S. Secretary of State. Her considerable achievements are also leavened with humour, in 2009 she published Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat's Jewel Box about her use of jewellery as a means of personal diplomatic expression.

The Jewish Museum Berlin opened in 2001 and is the largest Jewish museum in Europe and its buildings include two new additions specifically built for the museum by architect Daniel Libeskind.

Further information from the Jewish Museum Berlin's website.

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