Contemporary composer nominations accepted through Jan. 31, 2020

The Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University invites nominations for the 2020 Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition. The biennial prize will be awarded in spring 2020.

The award honors contemporary composers of outstanding achievement who have significantly influenced the field of composition. Nominees must show a unique creative voice as well as highest-level achievement in a substantial and continuing body of work.

The prize includes a $100,000 award and a performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Recipients are expected to complete two to three nonconsecutive weeks of residency interacting with students and faculty at the Bienen School of Music.

The Nemmers Prize is awarded without regard to citizenship or institutional affiliation. Former or present members of the Northwestern University faculty or employees of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra are not eligible. Self-nominations will not be accepted.

Letters of nomination describing the nominee’s professional accomplishments will be accepted through Jan. 31, 2020. Letters should be no more than two pages in length. Please send nominations by email to or mail to:

Secretary to the Selection Committee
Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition
Office of the Dean, Bienen School of Music
Northwestern University
Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Center for the Musical Arts
70 Arts Circle Drive
Evanston, IL 60208-2405 USA

Previous winners of the Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition include John Adams (2004), Oliver Knussen (2006), Kaija Saariaho (2008), John Luther Adams (2010), Aaron Jay Kernis (2012), Esa-Pekka Salonen (2014), Steve Reich (2016), and Jennifer Higdon (2018). 

The Nemmers Prize in Music Composition is made possible by a generous gift of the late Erwin Plein Nemmers and Frederic Esser Nemmers. Northwestern University administers four other Nemmers prizes: the Erwin Plein Nemmers Prize in Mathematics, the Frederic E. Nemmers Prize in Economics, the Mechthild Esser Nemmers Prize in Medical Science and the Nemmers Prize in Earth Sciences.

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