Award winners 2004

Kurt Masur

Civil courage - for this the conductor Kurt Masur receives the 2004 Peace of Westphalia Prize. The importance of this virtue was formulated by Willy Brandt in his "Memoirs": "Where civil courage has no home, freedom does not reach far." Kurt Masur has succeeded in confirming this quote in a special way: He was one of the six prominent Leipzigers who prevented an escalation of the Monday demonstration in the fall of 1989 through their personal commitment. The jury emphasized Kurt Masur's key role in the events: "He invoked peaceful dialogue and deprived the regime of the pretext for military intervention, which had already been prepared. He thus became the savior of Leipzig and one of the fathers of the first revolution on German soil that did not shed a drop of blood." Masur was actually a "politician against his will", as he had dedicated himself to music from an early age. He was born on July 18, 1927 in Brieg, Silesia, and attended the regional music school in Breslau at the age of 15. After the war, he studied piano, composition and conducting in Leipzig. After several positions as Kapellmeister, Masur became General Music Director at the Mecklenburg State Theater.

In 1960, the director of the comic opera, Walter Felsenstein, engaged him as chief conductor, and he later moved to the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra. His most important creative phase finally began in 1970, when Masur became Gewandhauskapellmeister in Leipzig. From this position, he demonstrated civil courage and showed personal commitment. "He used his reputation and made the voiceless sound of the heart heard," said the jury.


The 2004 Youth Prize goes to the carol singers. Every year after Christmas, around 500,000 children and young people go from house to house to collect money for the needy all over the world. Millions are collected within a few days, so that the supporting organizations - the Kindermissionswerk and the Bund der Deutschen katholischen Jugend (BDKJ) - had around 32 million euros available for charitable purposes in 2003. In the jury's statement, it says: "Our world would be a much darker place if it were not for the aid collected by the carol singers with shining children's eyes for a more peaceful world."