Entertainment

Led Zeppelin, Russian conductor win Polar Music Prize

Classic rockers Led Zeppelin and Russian conductor Valery Gergiev have been named the 2006 winners of the Polar Music Prize in Stockholm.

Classic rockers Led Zeppelin and Russian conductor Valery Gergiev have been named the 2006 winners of the Polar Music Prize in Stockholm.

Founded in 1989 by the Royal Swedish Academy of Music and Stig Anderson, manager of Swedish pop group ABBA, the annual prize honours one pop and one classical artist for their contributions to music. Each winner receives one million Swedish kronor (or about $146,000).

Organizers called Led Zeppelin "one of the great pioneers of rock," citing the British band's "playful and experimental music combined with highly eclectic elements." The group has helped define hard rock, the academy said Monday.

In their citation, the academy also praised Gergiev's "unique electrifying musical skills," commenting on "how he has managed to develop and amplify the importance of artistic music in these modern changing times." Currently artistic and general director of St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theater, Gergiev will take over as principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra in January 2007.

Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf will present the prizes at a ceremony on May 22, 2006. Gergiev and the surviving members of Led Zeppelin – Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Robert Plant (drummer John Bonham died in 1980) – are all expected to attend the award presentation ceremony.

Previous Polar Music Prize-winners include Ray Charles, Brazilian culture minister and longtime musician Gilberto Gil, sitar player Ravi Shankar, pianist Keith Jarrett, blues guitarist B.B. King, producer Quincy Jones, French conductor-composer Pierre Boulez, jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, and singer-songwriters Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan.