Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition

In Fall 2003, the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music established the Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition, a biennial award honoring classical music composers of outstanding achievement. Nominations are solicited worldwide and the winner is determined by a three-member selection committee, comprising individuals of widely recognized stature in the music community. The prize includes a cash award of $100,000 and a performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The recipient is expected to participate in two to three nonconsecutive weeks of residency at the Bienen School of Music interacting with students and faculty. All winners are listed below. 

Winners of the Nemmers Prize

2016: Steve Reich
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2014: Esa-Pekka Salonen
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2012: Aaron Jay Kernis
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2010: John Luther Adams
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2008: Kaija Saariaho
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2006: Oliver Knussen
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2004: John Adams
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Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize Criteria 

The Michael Ludwig Nemmers in Music Composition will be awarded to a classical music composer who shows the highest level achievement in a body of work and a unique creativity. Composers must be nominated, preferably by recognized authorities in the field of classical music, such as prominent artists, critics, scholars, or administrators, via a letter to the Selection Committee. Should the winner not have an orchestral composition, appropriate chamber groups from the Symphony will be utilized. The winner must be available for a two- to three-week residency at Northwestern University (the weeks may be non-consecutive) and able to interact with faculty and students. A cash allowance will be provided to the winner to cover expenses connected with the residency.

Criteria

  • The Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize is for outstanding career achievement rather than a specific work.
  • The Prize is international in focus and therefore open to any classical composer without regard to citizenship or institutional affiliation.
  • Only living composers may be nominated.
  • The person receiving the award must be available for a two- to three-week residency at Northwestern University (the weeks may be non-consecutive) and able to interact with faculty and students.
  • Former or present members of the Northwestern University faculty and employees of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra are ineligible for this prize.

Nominations

  • Nominations for the 2018 prize will be accepted through February 1, 2018. Late nominations will not be accepted.
  • Nominations should preferably come from recognized experts in the field of classical music.
  • Nominations should be made via a typewritten letter of no more than two pages and should describe the nominee's accomplishments and qualifications. The letter may include such areas as ways the nominee has distinguished him or herself, recognition the nominee has enjoyed, and ways in which the nominee has influenced composition.
  • The nominee’s resume is welcome but not required.
  • Scores and tapes will not be accepted. Those that are sent will not be returned.
  • The names of the nominators will not be made public; however each nominator must list their name and contact information on their letters of nomination. Anonymous nominations will not be accepted.
  • Nominators may nominate any number of candidates.

Nominations may be submitted by email to nemmersmusic@northwestern.edu or by mail. Email submissions must be emailed from the nominator's professional affiliation. Those wishing to mail nominations may submit them to the following address.

Secretary to the Selection Committee
Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition
Office of the Dean, Bienen School of Music
Northwestern University
Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Center for the Musical Arts
70 Arts Circle Drive
Evanston, IL 60208

Background

Northwestern University administers five Nemmers prizes: the Erwin Plein Nemmers Prize in Mathematics, the Frederic E. Nemmers Prize in Economics, the Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition, the Mechthild Esser Nemmers Prize in Medical Science, and the Nemmers Prize in Earth Sciences. The donors intended that each prize be recognized as a leading award in the designated field and honor individuals of outstanding achievement. The prizes in economics and mathematics have been awarded since 1994 and are now established signal honors in those fields. The Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition was established in 2003. The Mechthild Esser Nemmers Prize in Medical Science was established in 2014 and the Nemmers Prize in Earth Sciences in 2016. Learn more about the Nemmers Prizes at Northwestern University

The Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition is made possible through a generous gift from the late Erwin E. Nemmers and Frederic E. Nemmers.