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

Year Recipient Lifespan Occupation Country
1950 Churchill, Winston Winston Churchill 1874–1965 Author and statesman United Kingdom
1959 Schweitzer, Albert Albert Schweitzer 1875–1965 Philosopher and physician France
1960 Russell, Bertrand Bertrand Russell 1872–1970 Philosopher United Kingdom
1961 Bohr, Niels Niels Bohr 1885–1962 Physicist Denmark
1962 Aalto, Alvar Alvar Aalto 1898–1976 Architect Finland
1963 Barth, Karl Karl Barth 1886–1968 Theologian Switzerland
1964 Pire, Dominique Dominique Pire 1910–1969 Theologian and humanitarian Belgium
1965 Coudenhove-Kalergi, Richard von Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi 1894–1972 Author and statesman Austria
1966 Olivier, Laurence Laurence Olivier 1907–1989 Actor United Kingdom
1967 Visser 't Hooft, Willem Willem Visser 't Hooft 1900–1985 Theologian Netherlands
1968 Koestler, Arthur Arthur Koestler 1905–1983 Author United Kingdom
1969 Laxness, Halldór Halldór Laxness 1902–1998 Author Iceland
1970 Tau, Max Max Tau 1897–1976 Author West Germany
1971 Dolci, Danilo Danilo Dolci 1924–1997 Author and social activist Italy
1973 Popper, Karl Karl Popper 1902–1994 Philosopher Austria
1975 Arendt, Hannah Hannah Arendt 1906–1975 Author and politologist West Germany
1977 Næss, Arne Arne Næss 1912–2009 Philosopher Norway
1979 Gmeiner, Hermann Hermann Gmeiner 1919–1986 Philanthropist Austria
1981 Fo, Dario Dario Fo 1926–2016 Playwright Italy
1983 de Beauvoir, Simone Simone de Beauvoir 1908–1986 Author France
1985 Heinesen, William William Heinesen 1900–1991 Author Faroe Islands
1987 Habermas, Jürgen Jürgen Habermas b. 1929 Sociologist and philosopher West Germany
1989 Bergman, Ingmar Ingmar Bergman 1918–2007 Film and theatre director Sweden
1991 Havel, Václav Václav Havel 1936–2011 Author and statesman Czechoslovakia
1994 Kieślowski, Krzysztof Krzysztof Kieślowski 1941–1996 Film director Poland
1996 Grass, Günter Günter Grass 1927–2015 Author Germany
1998 Utzon, Jørn Jørn Utzon 1918–2008 Architect Denmark
2000 Barba, Eugenio Eugenio Barba b. 1936 Author and theatre director Italy
2002 Robinson, Mary Mary Robinson b. 1944 Politician Ireland
2004 Hatoum, Mona Mona Hatoum b. 1952 Video and installation artist United Kingdom
2006 Heller, Ágnes Ágnes Heller b. 1929 Philosopher Hungary
2008 Piano, Renzo Renzo Piano b. 1937 Architecture Italy
2010 Enzensberger, Hans Magnus Hans Magnus Enzensberger b. 1929 Author Germany
2012 Pamuk, Orhan Orhan Pamuk b. 1952 Author Turkey
2014 Haneke, Michael Michael Haneke b. 1942 Film director Austria

See also