Standing ovations filled the Stockholm Concert Hall as King Carl XVI Gustaf awarded this year’s Polar Music Prize winners: to Sweden’s own Max Martin, the Grammy Award winning hit-making maestro, and Italy’s Cecilia Bartoli, internationally renowned mezzo-soprano. Both laureates were honored with the 25th Polar Music Prize, the world’s most prestigious award for music.

Marie Ledin, managing director of the Polar Music Prize, said this of the winners, whose names were announced in February: "Max Martin and Cecilia Bartoli have both contributed an incredible amount to music in their respective fields. They embody what the prize represents: excellence in the world of music. It is an honor to have them as our 2016 laureates."


Also known as the “Nobel Prize for Music,” each laureate receives a specially designed trophy by Efva Attling and SEK 1 million ($119,000). The award was established in 1989 by Stig Anderson, the publisher, lyricist and manager of ABBA, with the intent to “break down musical boundaries by bringing together people from all the different worlds of music."

Max Martin, 45, the writer and producer of many songs known best by the stars who sang them — such as Britney Spears, Kelly Clarkson, Backstreet Boys, Def Leppard, even Michael Jackson to name just a few— hails from Stockholm. Though he generally likes to keep a low profile, he is famous for helping launch many music careers. According to the prize organizers, “In the last 20 years, no composer in the world has written melodies as sustainable or as widespread as those of Max Martin.”

Cecilia Bartoli, 50, is known as a down-to-earth opera singer, one of today's most sought-after opera stars to perform and record. She has sold over 10 million recordings, including several international pop songs. A native of Rome, Bartoli lives in Zurich with her Swiss baritone husband, Oliver Widmer.

Past laureates include Paul McCartney, Emmylou Harris, Dizzy Gillespie, Patti Smith, Bob Dylan, Ravi Shankar, Renee Fleming, Ray Charles, Youssou N’dour, Mstislav Rostropovich and the Kronos Quartet, among others.

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