Balzan Prizes awarded by the President of Italian Republic (November 2006)

The Balzan Prizes for 2006 were presented on November 24th by the Italian President Giorgio Napolitano. During the ceremony, which took place at the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, the prizes were presented to: Ludwig Finscher (Germany, University of Heidelberg) for History of Western Music Since 1600, Quentin Skinner (United Kingdom, University of Cambridge) for Political Thought: History and Theory, Paolo de Bernardis (Italy, University of Rome La Sapienza) and Andrew Lange (USA, California Institute of Technology) for Observational Astronomy and Astrophysics, Elliot M. Meyerowitz (USA, California Institute of Technology) and Chris R. Somerville (Canada/USA, Carnegie Institution) for Plant Molecular Genetics.

The International Balzan Foundation awards one million Swiss Francs (approx. 630,000 euros) for each prize, a figure which places the Balzan Prize amongst the biggest prize funds in the world of Science and Culture. The winners are each required to allocate half of their prize money to funding research projects carried out preferably by young scholars or scientists in their respective fields.

The subject fields honoured (which change every year and which are chosen from arts, letters, moral and physical sciences, mathematics and medicine) and the winners are chosen by the General Prize Committee, an independent body belonging to the International Balzan Foundation “Prize”, and which is presided over by Sergio Romano and composed of twenty leading academics from eleven European countries. 

The Balzan Prize 2006 for the History of Western Music since 1600 has been awarded to Ludwig Finscher “for his wide-ranging research activity in the field of musicology; for his penetrating, memorable insights into great works of music; for his profound commentaries on musical phenomena as well as his editorial direction of the new edition of the encyclopaedia Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, which makes the newest research accessible to a wide circle of musicians and music lovers” - official motivation by Balzan’s General Prize Committee.

Quentin Skinner has received the 2006 Balzan Prize for Political Thought: History and Theory "for his formulation of a distinctive methodology for the study of the history of ideas, his major contribution to the history of political thought and his acute reflections on the nature of liberty."

In the field of Observational Astronomy and Astrophysics, Paolo de Bernardis and Andrew Lange were recognized “for their contributions to cosmology, in particular the Boomerang Antarctic balloon experiment”.

The Plant Molecular Genetics Prize went to Elliot Meyerowitz and Chris Somervillefor their joint efforts in establishing Arabidopsis as a model organism for plant molecular genetics. This has far reaching implications for plant science, both on a fundamental level and in potential applications”.

 The Balzan Prize award ceremony takes place in alternate years in Rome with the President of the Republic in attendance, and in Berne at the Federal Palace. The four subject fields for the Balzan Prizes 2007, two for the Humanities and two for the Natural Sciences as always, are: European Literature 1000-1500, International Law since 1945, Innate Immunity and Nanoscience. The Balzan Prize for Humanity, Peace and Brotherhood of Peoples, awarded every three years, will also be presented in 2007.

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