Swedish honour often described as the Nobel Prize of music

Diane Warren, left, and Anna Netrobko will be awarded the Polar Music Prize in Stockholm in June. (Getty Images)

American songwriter Diane Warren and Russian soprano Anna Netrebko are the winners of this year’s Polar Music Prize, the Swedish award often described as the Nobel Prize of music.

The judging panel for the 2020 prizes, announced Tuesday, called Warren “a master of writing for the human voice” and said her songs “embody the rare combination of being catchy and yet complex enough to be heard hundreds of times”

Warren, who has written songs for many singers as well as for a long line of films, has “perfected the art of the power ballad,” the panel said.

“As a singer, to be given a Diane Warren song, is a gift.”


The Polar Music Prize panel also paid tribute to opera singer Netrebko as “a larger-than-life singer who keeps the classics alive, sells out every performance and also catches the attention of audiences new to opera.”

The judges added: “When Anna Netrebko performs, it’s impossible to look away.”

Alfons Karabuda, chair of the Polar Music Prize jury, is seen announcing the 2020 winners Tuesday in Stockholm. This year’s award ceremony will take place in Stockholm on June 9. (Janerik Henriksson /TT News Agency/Getty Images)

Previous laureates include artists such as Sting, Patti Smith, Paul McCartney and Joni Mitchell, bands including Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Metallica, and conductors Pierre Boulez and Mstislav Rostropovich.

Receiving the award “is a big honour,” Netrebko said in a statement issued by the panel. Warren noted that finding herself in the company of past recipients is “mind-blowing.”

The winners will each receive a cash prize of 1 million kronor (about $138,000 Cdn). The award ceremony will take place in Stockholm on June 9.

The Polar Music Prizes typically recognize one classical artist and one contemporary musician each year. The awards were founded in 1989 by the late Stig Anderson, manager of Swedish pop group ABBA, and have been handed out since 1992.