The 1999 POLAR Prize is awarded to the Greek/French composer Iannis Xenakis for a long succession of forceful works, charged with sensitivity, commitment and passion, through which he has come to rank among the most central composers of our century in the realm of art music, exercising within its various fields an influence which cannot be readily overstated. He has developed radically new methods of composition with principles taken from the worlds of architecture and natural science and integrated with the concept of musical form. In this way the “structural” music of today has been guided into absolutely new and revolutionary channels and compositional thinking has been thoroughly inspired and revitalised the world over.
Iannis Xenakis is also the man behind decisive innovative achievements in the field of electronic music and computer-assisted composition, which he ahs helped to pioneer. He has also led the way in completely new genres, for example through his Polytones, in which music, floodlights and laser beams combine to form a powerful and total artistic experience.