(c) Kantonale Denkmalpflege



Awardees 2022

The Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich – The Host as Awardee

As host, the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich warmly welcomed its European guests. Together with its Music Director Paavo Järvi, it received the European Culture Award from the hands of SRF Director Nathalie Wappler. She particularly appreciated the fact that the orchestra had not only won new audiences in the industrial quarter of its home city, but had also been able to renovate its home concert hall, the famous Tonhalle, in the midst of the Corona pandemic. The top orchestra is „not afraid to combine the popular with the contemporary,“ and its music recalls „what we urgently need: to listen, to pay attention, to train our own perception.“ Järvi clarified the spirit of the evening in particularly impressive words in view of the many crises in the world: „A symphony orchestra is a good example of how we could model our society: 32 nationalities are represented here, highly talented, professional and full of respect. It has never been more important for me as an Estonian to be a European than in these times.“

Mario Adorf – European Culture Prize for a Dazzling Life’s Work

It all started with a confession: „I was one of your biggest groupies for a very long time,“ Iris Berben adored her biggest idol. „You love people, and that’s maybe one of the biggest secrets why people love you.“ The European Cultural Forum also regularly honors artists outside the music scene who hold a special position in their genres. For example, Mario Adorf, a unique acting legend, was honored for his life’s work. His role model effect for entire generations of actors was honored in front of an appreciative audience. Yet Adorf never had it easy with his hometown: Born in Zurich almost exactly 92 years ago, he grew up with existential experiences such as fear and hunger. But he returned, became an extra and assistant director at the theater and experienced his big breakthrough. That he was honored for his life’s work in Zurich, of all places, filled Mario Adorf with great gratitude, because it was here that „three not everyday events coincided for me“ – birth, study and discovery. In a moving speech, he attested to his homeland being „not only in the heart of Europe, but also with its heart in Europe“, and that „in the most serious crisis since World War II“.

Die Toten Hosen – 40 Years of Rock Power

When they were founded, they were all still schoolboys: the handsome boys of the Toten Hosen. For the first time, the power rockers performed together with the Tonhalle Orchestra on their 40th stage anniversary and landed a world premiere in Zurich with their symphonic version of their hit „Alles aus Liebe“. Lead singer Campino expressed his gratitude for a „touching evening“: „So much class gathers here in one room that we especially appreciate it after two years of Corona.“ Laudator Jan Weiler attested to the musicians being „total artists – without studies or training“ who had acquired their great skills autodidactically. „Somehow you look like you’ve been on a class trip for 40 years that never ends.“ However, the Toten Hosen were not only honored for their unprecedented career, but also for their social commitment, as they have been making themselves heard for many years and taking a clear stand against xenophobia, racism, right-wing extremism and anti-Semitism.

Nigel Kennedy – A Border Crosser and Bridge Builder

He is probably the most beloved enfant terrible of the music guild and at the same time a devilish violinist: Nigel Kennedy received the European Culture Prize for music that permanently crosses borders. The famous Englishman has been trying to break down the barriers between classical and popular music for years, just as he is constantly dedicated to breaking down other barriers of all kinds – whether in terms of countries, people, or genders. In his acceptance speech, Kennedy invoked the unifying nature of music, the making of which has „a lot to do with inclusion.“ In his laudatory speech, television journalist Max Moor highlighted Kennedy’s drive for freedom, saying his love of music made his self-confidence shine. „His musical adventure journey never wants to end – it’s just there, like a true love.“

Claudia Cardinale – The Great „CC“ in the World of Cinema

Six decades of a fulfilled acting life: Actually, Claudia Cardinale had wanted to discover the world from Tunis, but by chance the „most beautiful Italian of Tunisia“ was mistaken for an actress at a film festival and began an exceptional career that lasted 60 years. For this exemplary life’s work, Cardinale was awarded the European Culture Prize, not without having delighted the still countless fans on the red carpet with a veritable shower of autographs. In the Tonhalle hall, her laudator Maria Furtwängler let Cardinal’s entire career pass by, which began with charming young heroines and was far from over, even with big leading roles in Hollywood. But Claudia Cardinal was also a UNESCO ambassador for women’s rights for many years and used every opportunity to campaign for equal rights for women. That, too, commanded the highest respect from her colleague Furtwängler: „You encouraged us women to be strong.“

Camilla Nylund – A Life for the Opera

If there is a musician who has also theoretically penetrated her subject to the last before she stepped on stage, it is the Swedish-Finnish soprano Camilla Nylund. Her extraordinary career began after her musicology studies, but all the steeper for it. The dramatic soprano quickly worked her way up to become an absolute Wagner and Strauss specialist and is now at home on the most important stages around the world. Matthias Schulz, currently opera director in Berlin and soon in the same position in Zurich, left no doubt about his admiration in his laudation: Nylund was a „natural phenomenon,“ her voice had such a „warm sound and a height that always remains round“ that it would always remain in the memory. Nylund himself thanked for the honor and spoke what many artists know: that the „rapture of joy of the audience is worth every effort“ and that the „elixir of affection is our doping“.

Sir Bryn Terfel – The Voice Wonder from Wales

Brit Award, Echo Klassik, Grammy and, on top of it all, the title of Chamber Singer – Sir Bryn Terfel has not been ennobled for his artistic versatility and quality and inducted into the Order of the British Empire for nothing. „A voice that makes us addicted as listeners“ – can there be a nicer compliment for an artist? From the mouth of Zurich Opera Director Andreas Homoki, who has truly heard many singers, it took particularly honorable, and Terfel performs not only worldwide, but thus of course in the Swiss cultural metropolis in several productions „It’s nice that I get the award just here,“ thanked the knight, „where I have sung and will sing so many roles.“ He took the opportunity to thank his parents and family, but also his native Wales, which made this career possible for him.


Hannes Jaenicke – Culture Award for Special Social Engagement

In addition to cultural workers, the European Cultural Forum has been awarding prizes for civil society commitment for several years. Hannes Jaenicke, a successful actor who is committed not only to environmental protection but also to a wide range of social projects, received the award. Laudator Barbara Meier, herself extremely committed as a Fair Fashion Ambassador, praised Jaenicke for „bringing uncomfortable truths into our living rooms, from which we would gladly suppress them.“ The honoree, who for years has excellently known how to combine art with commitment, thanked him meaningfully with a Dostoyevsky quote: „The only thing that can save the world is beauty.“

The Experimental Duo Yello – Sounds Become Music

They are still considered pioneers of electronic pop music: the Swiss musical duo Yello, made up of Dieter Meier and Boris Blank, has been inspiring generations of fans since the 1970s and continues to do so. But Meier in particular is much more than „just“ a musician: he began his professional career as a performance artist and experimental filmmaker. However, the duo received their cultural award in the music category for their unprecedented career, which began in 1978 in their hometown of Zurich. In a humorous and probably also slightly self-deprecating spirit, the two famous musicians demonstrated their creativity right on stage by processing a few verbal set pieces with digital technology into a pounding beat and performing to it themselves – the basis of their immense success, which even brought them to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The fact that they were honored for this at the Tonhalle Zurich, of all places, touched them deeply: „After all, we started out as a punk band,“ Meier fibbed.

Exceptional Cellist Sol Gabetta – The Sun in Her Heart

The name alone sounds like music: Sol Gabetta. Yet it deserves to be noted: It is the real name of the exceptional cellist from Argentina, who has lived in Switzerland for many years. And the translation could not be more apt: The cheerful nature lives up to the sun. When her cello playing was first heard at the Basel Conservatory, laudator Stephan Schmidt recalled, it was an „artistic figure of light that entered the stage.“ And so Gabetta, who is well aware of her external charms, says that it is directly her soul that touches people. „The music comes shooting out of her.“ Her interpretive accuracy is probably what makes her critics go into such raptures. And what could be more beautiful than receiving an award in one’s adopted country? The cellist thanked: „Europe has become my home.“


Niclas Castello – Recreate History of Art

They were big words from critic Dieter Buchhart: „Today, an artist is being honored who has literally destroyed art history in order to recreate it; he is a mastermind between our real world and our virtual world; he sees what is to come while keeping our present in mind.“ Niclas Castello, a conceptual artist from Thuringia who grew up in Berlin’s street art scene, had just set another milestone in his artistic career. What his laudator was referring to weighs 186 kilos and ten million euros with an edge length of 50 centimeters – „The Castello CUBE“ made headlines. This cube of pure gold was erected in New York’s Central Park one fine February morning, traveled to the Venice Art Biennale, and then to the depot out of concern about attacks. Back in 2016, Castello celebrated groundbreaking success in the art world with his Cube Painting Sculpture. To this day, the work is considered an expression of a new art genre between sculpture and painting.

Sponsor HALLMANN HOLDING: Art and Culture as a Basis for Understanding

Klemens Hallmann, main partner, presenter and member of the board of trustees of the European Cultural Forum, emphasized in a special way that especially in times of crisis bridge builders are needed who make understanding possible in the first place: „Art and culture are a mirror of the world and important for people and society. Together, they enable dialogue across borders and offer hope and perspectives to humanity – all the more so in times of conflict, when Europe needs to be united in a special way. As an investor and entrepreneur, I see it as my duty to promote art and culture wherever possible, to enable an anchor point for society as well as a piece of freedom and peace.“