The Music prize for creative and practical music was established in 1965 and was originally awarded every third year to a composer from one of the Nordic countries. Since 1990 the prize has been awarded every year alternately to a living composer and to individual artists or groups. In 1997 the autonomous territories, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland were granted permission to make their own nominations for the prize.
Every other year to a composer
There is no limitation on genre when the prize is awarded to a composer. However, it must go to a living composer. The work must meet high artistic standards and be innovative within its genre.
Every other year to an artist
To be nominated for the prize when it is given to a small or large ensemble or an individual musician, the nominee must be an active, practising musician. The musical activity must be characterised as innovative and of a high artistic and technical standard. In making the assessment it is important to have continuity in the work as well as the work being regarded as innovative within its musical genre.
Adjudication Committee chooses the prize winner
The Nordic Council of Ministers appoints a Nordic adjudication committee, which chooses the prizewinner. The Adjudication Committee consists of one member from each of the five Nordic countries.
In the event that there are entries from the autonomous territories a representative for that area has the right to take part in the work of the adjudication committee.
Nordic music experts on the committee
Members of the committee must be experts in the music of their own country and as far as possible also in the music of their neighbouring countries. It is assumed that the committee will collect information on music from the musical genres which are not directly represented in the committee, and maintain contact with the relevant music authorities.
Nominations from all the Nordic countries
The national members of the committee propose who should be considered as a recipient of the music prize. The autonomous territories can also submit proposals. Two nominations are submitted for each country and one each from the autonomous territories.
The decision on the prizewinner is made at the latest one month before the prize-giving ceremony. The Music Prize is usually awarded with the other Nordic prizes during the Nordic Council annual general assembly, the Session, in the autumn at a special ceremony.
The prize, which is administered by the Nordic House on the Faroe Islands is, like the prizes for literature, film and for nature and the environment, worth DKK 350,000 (approx 47,000 Euro).
Many well-known Nordic musicians and composers have won the prize throughout the years. Amongst those are the Norwegian-Sami singer Mari Boine, Icelandic singer Björk, trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg from Denmark, the Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho and the Swedish conductor Eric Ericsson.