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Vienna Philharmonic wins Birgit Nilsson prize

The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra has become the first orchestra ever to be awarded the Birgit Nilsson Foundation prize.

The prize that comes with an award of one million US dollars, is given to artists who have made the biggest contribution to classical music.

"Of course we are very, very happy about it because I know that Birgit Nilsson adored the Vienna Philharmonic," says the Foundation's President Rutbert Reisch. "She loved the sound, the shading, the expressiveness and, particularly important for a singer, they know how to form an entity with the singer on stage."

The prize has been running since it was founded in 2009 and is named after the late Swedish soprano who died 2006 aged 87 after a lengthy and what supporters say is an unrivalled career as an opera singer.

Previous winners of the award include opera star Placido Domingo, who was personally chosen by Nilsson and received it in 2009, and conductor Riccardo Muti who was picked three years later.

The Vienna Philharmonic will travel to Stockholm for the award ceremony October this year and perform works by Liszt and Wagner in the front of the Swedish King.

Orchestra President Clemens Hellsberg has said he is honoured by the award, describing Brigit Nilsson as having a huge "impact on my life".

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