Goebbels wins Ibsen Award

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Heiner Goebbels is described as a composer, director, teacher, festival programmer and also has created operas, radio drama and combinations of music and theater. All that won him this year’s International Ibsen Award, for his innovation and influence on the performing arts.

Heiner Goebbels is this year's winner of the Ibsen Prize. PHOTO: Ibsen Prisen

Goebbels, age 59, lives in Frankfurt and became internationally known for his radio programs in which he used music and text in equal doses. He also has composed music for the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and staged performances with the Hilliard Ensemble.

The jury of the Ibsen Award, which is funded by the Norwegian Government, called Goebbels one of the “great creative personalities” in contemporary theater, who has had “considerable influence” on performers and musicians. The jury also said they believe the meaning of Goebbels’ work will grow in the future, and influence the theater for generations to come.

“He has explored and expanded the relationship between theatre and music and in so doing has developed the elements of theatre in a way that has opened up new insights and possibilities,” the jury claimed when the award was announced at the Norwegian Embassy in Berlin this week.

Goebbels himself told newspaper Aftenposten that he had no special relation to Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen himself, for whom the prize is named. But he quickly added that “everyone in the theater” has “of course” worked with Ibsen’s material.

“I clearly have won the prize because I remove everything I don’t like about the theater, all the conventions and compromises,” Goebbels told Aftenposten.

The prize carries a cash award of NOK 2.5 million, equal to around EUR 330,000. It will be formally presented to Goebbels during the International Ibsen Festival at the National Theater in Oslo, which runs from August 23 to September 9.

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