Considered the biggest prize in classical music, Muti was recognised as a result of his “extraordinary contributions in opera and concert”.
The prize, of $1 million, is awarded out every second or third year to celebrate outstanding achievement in singing or conducting in opera or concerts and was originally established by Swedish soprano Birgit Nilsson before her death in 2005.
Muti, who is currently music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, is expected to receive the award at the Royal Opera in Stockholm on October 13th.
“Maestro Muti is being recognised for his extraordinary contributions in opera and concert, as well as his enormous influence in the music world both on and off the stage,” organisers said in a statement.
According to the Birgit Nilsson Foundation, the decision on the winner is taken by the Foundation Board, based on the recommendation of an international jury.
This year’s panel included The Daily Telegraph’s opera critic Rupert Christiansen, the president of the Vienna Philharmonic and the co-director of the Bayreuth Festival.
Muti, who has also been conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra in London, the Filarmonica della Scala in Milan and the Philadelphia Orchestra, was delighted by the news.
“I was deeply touched by the jury’s accolade, all the more so given my profound admiration for this unique and extraordinary artist, both as an incomparable musician and as a great interpreter,” he said in a statement.
Foundation president Rutbert Reisch added, “Riccardo Muti personifies and exemplifies all of the qualities that were so important to Birgit Nilsson: extraordinary work, dedication and passion for music over many decades.”
The 69-year-old is the second recipient of the award, which was first presented in 2009 to the Spanish tenor Placido Domingo.