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Denmark’s Léonie Sonning Music Prize Announces 2024 Winner

Berlin Philharmonic’s principal flute Emmanuel Pahud will receive the award and a cash prize of DKK 1,000,000


Awarded since 1959, the international Léonie Sonning Music Prize is Denmark’s highest music honor, which recognizes a renowned composer, musician, conductor, or singer within classical music. Its first recipient was composer Igor Stravinsky.

Swiss flutist Emmanuel Pahud has been selected for the 2024 edition of the prize for his ability to engage in an orchestral collective and to perform as a soloist in innovative programs.

As part of his win, Pahud will be giving a series of concerts in Denmark in 2024. Held outside of Copenhagen for the first time since 1990, the award concert and ceremony will be held in Odense Concert Hall on May 30, 2024.

Pahud received his first flute lessons at age six; his mentors later on included Michel Debost and Aurèle Nicolet. He won first prizes at international competitions in Duino, Kobe, and Geneva between 1988 and 1992.

Before joining the Berliner Philharmonic as principal flute in 1993, Pahud performed with the Basle Radio Symphony Orchestra and Munich Philharmonic. Following a period of teaching at the Geneva Conservatoire, Pahud returned to his role performing with the Berlin Philharmonic in 2002.

In June 2009, Pahud was made a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture for his contribution to French music. Since 2017, he has won several ECHO awards for his CD recordings and has been honorary president of the national French flute association.

“Flutist Emmanuel Pahud is one of the woodwind superstars, embodying classical ideals of beauty, elegance and equilibrism while simultaneously being a driving force in the creation of new works with a modern edge,” said Esben Tange, a board member of the award. “A master in his field. And an inspiration to audiences and younger generations of musicians alike.”

“What an overwhelming feeling to learn that you are the next recipient of the Leonie Sonning’s Music Prize!” Pahud said in the press release. “I will be looking forward to presenting fascinating creative programmes across Denmark around the award ceremony. This prestigious Music Prize will give me a new impulse to explore further horizons. It is with a lot of pride, but humbled and in awe at the achievements of past recipients, that I express my deepest gratitude to the Léonie Sonning Foundation.”


The Léonie Sonning Music Prize was established by and named for Leonie Sonning, the widow of the Danish author Carl Johan Sonning. Laureates of the award have included Leonard Bernstein, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Kaija Saariaho, and Sir Simon Rattle.

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