The very first Polar Music Prize Ceremony was held at Berwaldhallen in Stockholm in the month of May 1992.
HM King Carl XVI Gustaf presented the Prize to the first Polar Music Prize Laureates Sir Paul McCartney and the Baltic States. Unfortunately, Paul McCartney could not attend the ceremony, he was in the middle of the recording of a new album, but representatives from the three Baltic states were there.
Each state received 1 million SEK to develop a copyright structure and support the founding of performing rights societies for musicians and composers.
An amazing line up honoured the Laureates by performing on stage: Eva Dahlgren, Tomas Ledin, Arne Domnérus, Georg Riedel and The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sixten Erling.
The evening continued with a banquet at Stockholm’s Grand Hôtel.
The founder of the Polar Music Prize, Stig "Stikkan" Anderson", interviewed outside concert hall Berwaldhallen, just before the first Polar Music Prize ceremony..
Estonian children's choir outside Berwaldhallen in Stockholm.
Traditional folk dance in front of Berwaldhallen.
When Stig Anderson founded the Polar Music Prize in the early ‘90s, he decided it should be awarded to individuals, groups and institutions in recognition of exceptional achievements in music and/or musical life – and “for achievements which are believed to be of great potential importance for the advancement of music and/or musical life.”
The Baltic states and the support of performing rights societies will remain a unique Laureate throughout the years. This first award, side by side with Sir Paul McCartney as the other first Laureate, truly lays the foundation for the spirit and aims of the Polar Music Prize.
Gudrun and Stig Anderson at the first ceremony, in front of the Royal Horseguards at Berwaldhallen.
Polar Music Prize highlights 1992-2014.
To understand the significance and the background of the award, one needs to go back to the winter and spring of 1991-92. At that time, the three nations had only existed for six months. They declared their new independence in March 1990 (Lithuania) and in August 1991 (Estonia and Latvia) and had legally elected governments. The Soviet Union officially recognized the three Baltic States on September 6, 1991.
"Our Story" - a short story told by three young people from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, who have experienced living in the Soviet Union, and in the independent countries. In their own languages with some English translation. By Lasma Kanele (2009)
“Aside from the financial support, the Polar Music Prize had a most encouraging effect showing that there was a trust in our future and that Estonian Authors’ Society was considered being – or rather to be – a collecting society capable of performing the same functions like any other European society”, says the Managing Director of EAU, Kavel Rattus today. “Yes, the financial support and the moral recognition were the two biggest values”, agrees Edmundas Vaitekunas, Director of the Lithuanian copyright management association LATGA-A in 1992.
“You have to understand”, says Kavel Rattus, “that our copyright law was enforced only 6 months later, there was anarchy on the music market and piracy prevailed.” Together with Latvian author’s society AKKA-LAA, these newly founded rights societies were the real recipients of the Polar Music Prize – since it was awarded “to support their national music culture, as a nucleus for the formation of performing rights societies in international co-operation”.
Kavel Rattus, Director of Estonian performing rights society EAU beside the Polar Music Prize Diploma from 1992. (Source: Mikael Nilsson)
Mikk Targo, chairman of Estonian performing rights society EAU in 1992. (Source: Bo Lindqvist)
The Board of Lithuanian LATGA, June 1992 (Source: Bo Lindqvist)
The Prize money was trusted by the Swedish Performing Rights Society Stim, who administered payouts, bit by bit, during two years. They also gave professional advice and support to the Baltic societies. “It was the beginning of a good partnership with Stim”, says Kavel Rattus of EAU. “Not only should we manage the economic rights of authors and composers in our own country, but also taking care of the interests of our sister societies throughout the world in our territory."
All three Baltic societies are members of CISAC (International Federation of Societies of Authors and Composers) and the European group GESAC. “The Polar Music Prize also meant very practical aid and assistance to the Baltic societies”, remembers Bo Lindqvist of Stim. “I travelled a lot in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in 1992-93 and visited the three societies. I could see the need of very basic equipment, besides the need for structural support.
Artwork by Bronius Leonavicius picturing the Lithuanian performing rights society LATGA-A in the international environment. (Source: LATGA-A)
Bronius Leonavicius, chairman of Lithuanian performing rights society LATGA in 1992. (Source: Bo Lindqvist)
What do we know about the music in the three Baltic states? Most people around the world, possibly very little. What all three countries have in common is the strong position for choral music, for singing. Some of the world’s largest song festivals are held in Vilnius, Tallinn and not least in Riga. The All-Latvian Song and Dance Festival has been held here since 1873, normally every five years.
Approximately 30,000 performers participate in the event. Traditionally, folksongs and classical choir songs are sung, with emphasis on a cappella singing, but in recent years modern popular songs have been incorporated into the repertoire. During the Soviet coaching, rock music was extremely popular, because it, as well as folk songs, offered a chance to rebel against the local authorities. Jazz has had a strong foothold in this part of Europe. Now, the popular music scene is dominated by pop music and alternative rock.
A few of the more than 10,000 singers that performed in the grand choir at the Latvian Song and Dance Festival in Riga 2008 (Source: Wikimedia commons)
Latvian music, from traditional and classical to contemporary.
Latvian band Prata Vetra (Brain Storm), 2012 (Source: AKKA/LAA)
There is a movement in Estonia, as well as in Latvia and Lithuania, with more and more alternative rock bands and artists singing in English in a personal, poetic style – to some extent rooted in their national music culture but at the same time with an international appeal. Ewert and the Two Dragons is a successful example. At the Estonian Music Awards 2012 they won “Band of the year", "Album of the year" and "Song of the year" (for 2011).
Ewert and The Two Dragons in "Good Man Down" (2011), the song for which they won "Song of the year" at Estonian Music Awards in 2012.
Siiri Sisask, Estonian musician, singer and actress (Source: Siiri Sisask website)
One of the most famous contemporary classical composers in Europe is from Estonia; Arvo Pärt (b. 1935) – although he left his country many years ago because of struggle with the Soviet authorities. He now lives in Berlin. The Eurovision Song Contest kind of music has a strong foothold in Estonia, too, as has heavy rock. But as Estonia and the other Baltic countries become more and more part of a European and global society, all genres and styles are represented on the Estonian music scene.
Estonian composer Arvo Pärt (Source: Wikimedia commons)
Estonian music, from traditional and classical to contemporary.
The examples of Lithuanian contemporary music are typical of the evolution of music in countries previously isolated, and now democracies in a global world. You cannot really say that it’s typical Lithuanian music. Still it is. At least it is composed and performed by musicians and artists living in Lithuania, but now moving freely around the world. Mario Basonov (Marijus Adomaitis) makes ambient, house and dance music that is universal.
The open stage for the traditional song and dance festival (Dainų šventė) in Vingis Park, Vilnius. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Mario Basonov (Marijus Adomaitis) & Vidis, feat. Jazzu in "I'll Be Gone" (2008). Video from Silence Music.
Alina Orlova (Orlovskaya, b. 1988) is a sung poetry musician of Polish-Russian heritage who performs in three languages; English, Russian and French. Gediminas Gelgotas (b. 1986) is a Lithuanian composer, conductor and performing artist. In 2006, he founded the ensemble NI&Co (New Ideas Chamber Orchestra) to realize his musical and conceptual ideas. His works are performed in concert halls in Latvia, Russia, Ukraine, Germany and Great Britain – besides Lithuania.
Alina Orlova (Alina Orlovskaya) in "From Brooklyn to Russia with Love."
Music video for Gediminas Gelgotas piece "Never Ignore Cosmic Ocean". Performed by New Ideas Chamber Orchestra NI&Co, artistic director Gediminas Gelgotas. March 2012.
Lithuanian music, from traditional and classical to contemporary.
Content of biography is presented here as it was published in 2012.
All pictures from the ceremony © Polar Music Prize.