Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition

In Fall 2004, the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music established the Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition, a biennial award honoring classical music composers of outstanding achievement in a body of work and a unique creativity. Nominations are solicited worldwide. The winner is determined by a three-member selection committee, comprising individuals of widely recognized stature in the music community. The prize includes a cash award of $100,000, a performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and a residency of four non-consecutive weeks at the Bienen School of Music where the recipient interacts with faculty and students.

On June 2, 2004, John Adams was named the inaugural winner of the Nemmers Prize in Music Composition. The subsequent winners have included Oliver Knussen (2006), Kaija Saariaho (2008), John Luther Adams (2010), Aaron Jay Kernis (2012), and Esa-Pekka Salonen (2014).

Nominations for the 2016 Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition will be accepted from October 1, 2015 through February 1, 2016, with the winner announced in early spring 2016. Nominations preferably should come from recognized experts in the music profession and describe the nominee’s accomplishments and qualifications in no more than a two-page letter. Inclusion of the nominee’s resume along with the nominating letter is encouraged but is not required. Self-nominations will not be accepted. Former or present members of the Northwestern University faculty or employees of the Chicago Symphony are not eligible for the prize.

Nominations can be sent by email to nemmersmusic@northwestern.edu or by postal mail to: 

Secretary to the Selection Committee
Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition
Office of the Dean
Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music
Northwestern University
70 Arts Circle
Evanston, IL 60208

The Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition is made possible through a generous gift from the late Erwin E. Nemmers and Frederic E. Nemmers, who in 1994 enabled the creation at Northwestern University of the Erwin Plein Nemmers Prize in Economics and the Frederic Esser Nemmers Prize in Mathematics, leading awards in those fields.

Nemmers Prize Criteria

Winners of the Nemmers Prize

2014: Esa-Pekka Salonen

2012: Aaron Jay Kernis

2010: John Luther Adams

2008: Kaija Saariaho

2006: Oliver Knussen

2004: John Adams