The award, including an endowment of €10,000, honours personalities committed to teaching classical music.

Thomas Hampson will be awarded the 2020 Heidelberger Frühling Music Award. The award, which includes an endowment of €10,000 and will be presented at the eponymous music festival, honours the American baritone star’s decades of commitment to the ‘Kunstlied’ (art song).


The International Music Festival Heidelberger Frühling bestows the award each year to individuals who have made substantial and lasting contributions within the classical music education sector. The award is donated by HeidelbergCement, the founding partner of the Festival and its main sponsor since 1997. Previous winners include composer and clarinettist Jörg Widmann, music journalist Eleanore Büning, pianist and cultural manager Markus Hinterhäuser, baritone Christian Gerhaher, pianist Gabriela Montero and Artist Director of Wigmore Hall John Gilhooly. The award ceremony, part of Thomas Hampson’s 65th birthday celebrations, will be held in Berlin in autumn 2020.

The rationale for the award is as follows:

Thomas Hampson is an international ambassador of the Kunstlied: he is an outstanding performer, passionate teacher, musicological researcher and committed pioneer of digital learning. Through his extensive promotional and teaching activities, he has been instrumental both in making the Kunstlied the subject of an intercultural dialogue worldwide and in making this genre socially relevant. Since 2003, he and his Hampsong Foundation have been committed to advocating the ‘Lied’ (song) and establishing it as a contemporary genre. They do not merely address a select circle of experts, but rather the broader spectrum: from new talent to teachers, the various music institutions and an international audience. Thomas Hampson is invaluable in ensuring that the Lied remains an integral part of our culture in the future. For this reason, he will be awarded the Heidelberger Frühling music prize.

Dr Bernd Scheifele, Chairman of the Board, HeidelbergCement:

Thomas Hampson has built a lasting legacy throughout his unprecedented career. Of course, the first thing to come to mind is the Heidelberger Frühling’s Lied Academy, which owes its success largely to his efforts as artistic director. As a founding partner of the festival, HeidelbergCement would like to congratulate this exceptional artist and passionate teacher who continues to build bridges with his art.

Thomas Hampson, awardee:

I feel, of course, personally very honoured to receive the music prize, but above all I am very pleased, because it is a commitment to the genre of Lied. What the “Heidelberger Frühling” and the Heidelberg International Song Centre make possible here is of existential importance in order to keep this heritage alive and support its future. Our world needs more of those shelters in which people can dedicate themselves to the fundamental questions of human being.

The Music Festival Heidelberger Frühling will be held from 21 March to 24 April 2020. Well over 100 events—concerts, an international festival academy, several world premieres of commissioned works and a multimedia musical theatre production—have been included in the programme, which will be published on 18 October.

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In song, you have one of the most amazing diaries of any generation’s culture at a given time.

Thomas Hampson