The Sonning Prize (Danish: Sonningprisen) is a Danish culture prize awarded biennially for outstanding contributions to European culture. It is named after the Danish editor and author Carl Johan Sonning (1879–1937), who established the prize by his will. The prize was first awarded in 1950, although its second winner was in 1959 after an eight-year hiatus. It was then awarded every year from 1959 to 1971, and then every second year from 1971 to 1991, and again from 1994 to present.

Prize winners are chosen by a committee chaired by the rector of the University of Copenhagen which decides on laureates from a selection of candidates proposed by European universities. The prize amounts to DKK 1 million (~135,000) and the award ceremony is always held on or around 19 April (Sonning's birthday) in Copenhagen.

Sonning Prize laureates

YearRecipientLifespanOccupationCountry
1950Churchill, WinstonWinston Churchill1874–1965Author and statesman United Kingdom
1959Schweitzer, AlbertAlbert Schweitzer1875–1965Philosopher and physician France
1960Russell, BertrandBertrand Russell1872–1970Philosopher United Kingdom
1961Bohr, NielsNiels Bohr1885–1962Physicist Denmark
1962Aalto, AlvarAlvar Aalto1898–1976Architect Finland
1963Barth, KarlKarl Barth1886–1968Theologian  Switzerland
1964Pire, DominiqueDominique Pire1910–1969Theologian and humanitarian Belgium
1965Coudenhove-Kalergi, Richard vonRichard von Coudenhove-Kalergi1894–1972Author and statesman Austria
1966Olivier, LaurenceLaurence Olivier1907–1989Actor United Kingdom
1967Visser 't Hooft, WillemWillem Visser 't Hooft1900–1985Theologian Netherlands
1968Koestler, ArthurArthur Koestler1905–1983Author United Kingdom
1969Laxness, HalldórHalldór Laxness1902–1998Author Iceland
1970Tau, MaxMax Tau1897–1976Author West Germany
1971Dolci, DaniloDanilo Dolci1924–1997Author and social activist Italy
1973Popper, KarlKarl Popper1902–1994Philosopher Austria
1975Arendt, HannahHannah Arendt1906–1975Author and politologist West Germany
1977Næss, ArneArne Næss1912–2009Philosopher Norway
1979Gmeiner, HermannHermann Gmeiner1919–1986Philanthropist Austria
1981Fo, DarioDario Fo1926–2016Playwright Italy
1983de Beauvoir, SimoneSimone de Beauvoir1908–1986Author France
1985Heinesen, WilliamWilliam Heinesen1900–1991Author Faroe Islands
1987Habermas, JürgenJürgen Habermasb. 1929Sociologist and philosopher West Germany
1989Bergman, IngmarIngmar Bergman1918–2007Film and theatre director Sweden
1991Havel, VáclavVáclav Havel1936–2011Author and statesman Czechoslovakia
1994Kieślowski, KrzysztofKrzysztof Kieślowski1941–1996Film director Poland
1996Grass, GünterGünter Grass1927–2015Author Germany
1998Utzon, JørnJørn Utzon1918–2008Architect Denmark
2000Barba, EugenioEugenio Barbab. 1936Author and theatre director Italy
2002Robinson, MaryMary Robinsonb. 1944Politician Ireland
2004Hatoum, MonaMona Hatoumb. 1952Video and installation artist United Kingdom
2006Heller, ÁgnesÁgnes Hellerb. 1929Philosopher Hungary
2008Piano, RenzoRenzo Pianob. 1937Architecture Italy
2010Enzensberger, Hans MagnusHans Magnus Enzensbergerb. 1929Author Germany
2012Pamuk, OrhanOrhan Pamukb. 1952Author Turkey
2014Haneke, MichaelMichael Hanekeb. 1942Film director Austria

See also