The jury, headed by Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki, cited Pires's "extraordinary musical talent" as well as her "intense, prolonged and generous dedication to teaching young people." Pires spends much of her time teaching at the Center for the Study of the Arts, which she founded on her farm in Belgais, Portugal.
Emilio Hernšndez, director of the Don Juan de Borb‹n Foundation, which is based in Segovia and named after the father of the current Spanish king (and the claimant to the throne during the Franco years), said that sixteen singers, composers and conductors were nominated for the prize, which honors "the extraordinary professional and human career" of a prominent international musician. Pires was the only pianist among the nominees.
Pires was born in Lisbon in 1944 and began playing the piano at three. She came to international attention after winning the 1970 Beethoven Bicentennial Competition in Brussels. She has been a Deutsche Grammophon artist since 1989; her recordings have focused on Mozart and Chopin, as well as Beethoven, Schubert and Schumann.
Pires will be presented with the award on October 25 in Segovia. In addition to the cash prize, she will also receive an 18th-century crystal vase.