The Argentinean-born pianist and conductor will direct 100,000 euros of the prize money towards the remodeling of the Berlin State Opera; the remaining money will go to the new Barenboim Music Education Foundation.
The award, which recognizes achievement in contemporary music, will be presented by the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts during a ceremony in Vienna on May 12, where Pierre Boulez, principal guest conductor of Barenboim's Chicago Symphony Orchestra, will speak.
Barenboim was born in Buenos Aires in 1942 to piano teacher parents of Jewish Russian descent. He began studying the piano at age five, and gave his first public performance at age seven. The family moved to Israel in 1951. At eleven he became the youngest person to attend Igor Markevich's conducting course in Salzburg; he later studied with Nadia Boulanger in Paris.
Barenboim made his debut as a pianist in Vienna and Rome in 1952, and an active career as a pianist followed. In 1967 he launched an equally successful conducting career; he completing his final season as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and is lifetime principal conductor of the Berlin Staatskapelle.