BONN 2021


Awardees 2021

The Scorpions – goose bumps in the Bonn Opera House

If you let your thoughts drift back to the year 1990, you cannot ignore their anthem: "Wind of Change". A song for freedom, for weeks and months that changed every personal life and society. The Scorpions have been on stage for over 50 years, over 50 years full of hits. "Wind of Change" seems to be the best known, but the hit "Rock You Like a Hurricane" or the ballad "Still Loving You" still get hundreds of people humming and singing along to this day, all over the world. For the band, popularity is not just the culmination of an exciting career, but also an obligation. Namely the one to get involved for and with society. For more moral courage, against diseases like cancer, for music therapy, in the service of UNICEF. In the Bonn Opera House, the Scorpions received the European Culture Prize 2021 in recognition of their life's work spanning more than five decades. Laudator Heinz Rudolf Kunze attested to the band having "achieved their popularity with indomitable will, perseverance and diligence". In a newly created arrangement, lead singer Klaus Meine performed together with the Beethoven Orchestra Bonn and gave the audience goosebumps.

Tobias Moretti – at home all over Europe

Border crossers between the worlds: cinema, television, theater - a phalanx in the cosmos of acting. The exceptional actor recites from Goethe's “Egmont” to Beethoven's music – a fascinating balancing act between language and music. Again and again new tasks bring him into the public eye, whether at the Salzburg Cathedral Square or at the Burgtheater in Vienna. He tirelessly takes on new roles, he tirelessly explores new boundaries. He shows the soul of his characters and gives them his character along the way. An essential connecting element in a decades-long work - also, but of course not only in the ARD film adaptation of the Beethoven biography of the last year. ARD program director Christine Strobl not only emphasized his great achievements, but also praised Moretti as a political figure who interferes and can also be uncomfortable. "Art and artists must be free," said Strobl. The honoree was particularly pleased about the European claim of the prize, because "I hope that Europe will continue to be perceived as a synonym for diversity and is no longer just a synonym for the lowest common denominator."

Standing ovation – the people of Bonn celebrate their orchestra

In Bonn, Dirk Kaftan took up the position of general music director with the aim of setting out for new musical shores with Beethoven, while keeping the audience firmly in view. This is exactly what he has achieved with the Beethoven Orchestra Bonn. In newly created arrangements, the Scorpions and Till Brönner performed together with the orchestra - prizewinner Katie Melua. The Beethoven Orchestra was honored for its participatory concepts. Laudator Timotheus Höttges, CEO of Deutsche Telekom AG, acknowledged the orchestra's joy in experimenting with new forms of music communication. “Beethoven warned us that art can only ever be measured by art and not by commerce. In the truest sense of the word, we must have a fondness for them.”

Diana Damrau is the queen of the night  

The unique soprano Diana Damrau inspires the audience in Bonn with her prime role as Queen of the Night, with which she recommended herself on all international stages. "I am very proud to be here because Europe, like an orchestra, should be a role model: composed of different countries and ways of thinking, but cooperative with a common goal," said Damrau. "We have to turn our European orchestra into a global one!" In her laudatory speech, Ilona Schmiel, director of the Tonhalle Society in Zurich, underlined the exemplary passion with which Diana Damrau, as Europe's cultural ambassador, inspires an audience of millions worldwide with her performances and thus to a special degree cultural understanding in Europe and beyond.

Till Brönner – one of the greats in his field 

Sounds of crystalline clarity, great importance for the smallest nuances, intoxicating virtuosity - all this makes Till Brönner one of the world's best in his field. In an interview he once said: “Music is an expression of how you feel. And she's almost like a therapist who always travels with you.” As a photographer, he uses a very different kind of art to look into people's souls. Building cultural bridges is his trademark: making the inner magic of music and art shine and making people happy. In the case of Till Brönner, laudator Katarina Witt emphasized above all the versatility and his strong-voiced commitment to the fate of his art colleagues in times of the pandemic.

Katie Melua - an exceptional singer with a lot of heart

If you were looking for a synonym for sensuality, you would quickly find her name: Katie Melua. Passion and affection, but also sadness and anger are part of the emotional palette in her songs. Never pushy, always touching. With the record "In Winter" she caused a musical sensation in 2016: a bridge between West and East, unusual songs with the Gori Women's Choir, an ensemble of more than 20 Ukrainian singers. "Katie Melua is being honored for her extremely versatile and holistic musical personality, which helps to overcome the divisions in Europe," said laudator and fellow musician Leslie Mandoki.

Surprise guest for David Garrett

He appears like a pop star, but his homeland is classical music: David Garrett seemingly effortlessly bridges the gap between Beethoven and Michael Jackson. As a virtuoso violinist, he lures a large number of people to his sold-out tours on huge stages who previously had almost nothing to do with classical music, paving the way for them into a previously unknown area of ​​music. So you can call David Garrett a musical wall-buster who tears down the boundaries between genres. Against a variety of resistance from the record industry, he asserts his music, in which he combines classic with rock, pop and jazz. The great success of his crossover style is reflected in his immense popularity. After a touching eulogy for her brother, David Garrett receives his prize from his sister Elena Marie Malischek.

Fair Fashion Prize goes to Barbara Meier

In a loud voice, Barbara Meier asks the textile industry and consumers why clothing has become a disposable product in our society. As an ambassador for the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Barbara Meier campaigns publicly for the issue of producing fashion on fair terms for everyone in the world. The Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation, Gerd Müller, honored model Barbara Meier as this year's award winner for her commitment to minimum ecological and social standards in the manufacture of clothing in Africa and Asia. The qualified mathematician is also on the road as an ambassador for the Federal Ministry and was happy about the big stage for her message: "Fashion is actually something very beautiful, but it is also a very dirty industry, both in terms of waste and the slavery of textile workers." Meier therefore promoted the purchase of fairly manufactured fashion that evening.

Gottfried Helnwein - art without rules

Gottfried Helnwein is one of the most internationally successful painters and photographers, a man of performance, stage design and installation. In Vienna's Albertina, his exhibition becomes the most visited by a living artist. He is an artist who – defying social conventions – dares to tackle taboo subjects and thus not only initiates an inner discourse. He is someone who shares Beethoven's ideals: strong, revolutionary, committed to art, contradicting art, advancing art. The European Culture Prize for Fine Arts was awarded to the Austrian Gottfried Helnwein, who fills well-visited and sometimes uncomfortable exhibitions all over the world. He promised the audience that "despite the prize, he would continue to ignore any rules and only remain committed to the people". Laudator Klaus Albrecht Schröder from the Albertina in Vienna attested to his work, "often making oppressed creatures visible and moving us deeply".

Nico Rosberg – no culture without sustainability

What is to be part of human life in the future must be prepared in the present. Since 2018, the European Culture Prize has honored people and institutions that invest in the future and are therefore an important part of cultural life. Sustainable technologies are essential for a future worth living. Nico Rosberg has made this knowledge his own in addition to his successful racing career. With his own team Rosberg - Extreme Racing (RXR), he started in Formula E. As a co-founder of the Greentech Festival, he gives innovations a stage and brings experts together with startups. He summed up the claim to give his actions a meaning in one word “sustainability entrepreneur”. Prince Albert II of Monaco, who was honored with the European Culture Prize for Environmental Protection in 2018, sent Nico Rosberg a greeting to the 2021 prize winner in this category. The eulogy in the evening was held by the well-known climate researcher Johan Rockström.

European sponsorship award "Next Generation" for the digital classroom

Innovations, entrepreneurial spirit and daring to try something new – that's what the competition for the European "Next Generation" award was all about this year. In view of the challenges surrounding distance learning caused by the pandemic, the best foundations, startups or project initiatives for the digital classroom 4.0 were sought. From a total of 21 applications from all over Europe, the Finnish company "Curious Technologies" from Helsinki was awarded with its speech robot Elias in the Bonn Opera. The startup around CEO Johanna Hemminki developed an interactive learning program that allows students to learn languages ​​in a playful way by having conversations with human-like robots. Thanks to the "learning by speaking" concept, the software is not only suitable for school children, but can also be used in adult education, in pre-school age or for illiterates.

Culture as common ground

Especially in times of crisis in Germany's unique cultural landscape, partners are becoming increasingly important. It is therefore particularly gratifying that, despite the pandemic, the Vienna HALLMANN HOLDING, the main sponsor and presentation partner, is remaining loyal to the European Culture Prize for the second year. "Ludwig van Beethoven described art as a means of uniting the world. Culture connects, creates identity and gives strength, even in difficult times," says entrepreneur and investor Klemens Hallmann. "On this common ground, a society can continue to develop in a future-oriented and cheerful way. It is therefore a particular pleasure for me to present the European Culture Prize in Bonn and, as the main partner, to make a contribution to the preservation and further development of the European cultural landscape.”

Culture Prize with the support of the Beethoven Jubilee Society

"It's as if every tree spoke to me," enthused Beethoven during his stays in the country. In times when environmental and climate issues are more relevant than ever, the Beethoven Anniversary GmbH also sheds new light on the relationship between people and nature. Malte Boecker, Artistic Director: “The motto of the anniversary is: Rediscover Beethoven! The presentation of the European Culture Prizes in Bonn fits in with this in a special way. It draws attention not only to personalities, but also to initiatives that contribute to sustainability in society and are also inspired by Beethoven.”