The first Music Prize was awarded in 1965. Originally, awarded to Nordic composer every third year, it has been an annual event since 1990, going to a composer one year, and a musician or group the next. The Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland have submitted nominations since 1997.
Composers one year...
In years when the prize goes to a composer, there are no restrictions on genre. The only stipulations are that the composer must still be alive and the work must be innovative and of the highest artistic standard.
...musicians the next
The prize goes to a currently active individual, group or ensemble of any size. The music must be innovative and of the highest artistic and technical standard. Continuity and innovation within the genre are weighted highly.
The Nordic Council of Ministers appoints an adjudication committee, that chooses the winner of the Music Prize. The committee consists of one member from each of the five Nordic countries.
In years when the Faroe Islands, Greenland or Åland submit nominations, appropriate representatives are co-opted onto the committee.
The committee members are experts in the music of their own country, but also, as far as possible, in the music of the neighbouring countries as well. The committee has a duty to consider genres not directly represented by its members and to keep in contact with relevant music bodies throughout the Region.
All of the nations
Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland each have national representatives on the committee and are entitled to submit two nominations. The Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland also have the right to submit a single nomination each.
The winner is chosen one month before the award ceremony. The prize is usually awarded, along with the prizes for literature, film and nature and the environment, at a ceremony during the annual autumn Session of the Nordic Council.
The Nordic House on the Faroe Islands handles the administration of the prize. The Music Prize is worth DKK 350,000 (approx. €47,000), the same as the prizes for literature, film, and nature and the environment.
Over the years, the prize has gone to many well-known musicians and composers, including the Norwegian-Sami singer Mari Boine, the Icelandic singer Björk, trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg from Denmark, the Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho and the Swedish conductor Eric Ericsson.