Sir Ralph Kohn, long-standing friend of Wigmore Hall, and co-founder and benefactor of our International Song Competition, sadly passed away on Friday 11 November 2016. Sir Ralph believed passionately in supporting young musicians and helping them to explore their innate gifts. He noted how the art of Lieder singing, which goes far beyond surface displays of technical prowess and vocal athleticism, amounts to the truest measure of a singer's artistic evolution.
Lieder and song show not only the subtleties of the voice but also open windows onto the subtleties of a performer's soul. To interpret a Schubert Lied with the widest range of nuances and shadings of expression is, in my view, more demanding and rewarding than any other form of singing.
There is an attention to detail about what we are doing – from the composition of the jury and the quality of advice given to contestants to the focus on repertoire breadth and artistic depth – which I believe makes this a unique event in the world of song.Sir Ralph Kohn
The Kohn Foundation
The Kohn Foundation was established in 1991 by Sir Ralph Kohn to provide financial support for scientific and medical research, in innovation, the arts, education and humanitarian aid. The Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition has been fortunate enough to enjoy total financial support from the Foundation since the competition was set up in 1997.
Sir Ralph Kohn was a medical scientist and musician. He obtained his PhD at Manchester University and subsequently spent some years as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute of Health in Rome, working and publishing with two Nobel Laureates. After a further research year at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, he joined the pharmaceutical industry as a Senior Executive in Research & Development, and subsequently Management. He established the first Independent Medical Research Organisation in the UK for the clinical evaluation of new drugs and received the Queen's Award. He received many scientific honours and awards, including Fellowship of the Royal Society (FRS), Academy of Medical Sciences, British Pharmacological Society and European Academy and Doctor of Science.
Sir Ralph was awarded the Medal of Honour of the City of Leipzig by the Lord Mayor in June 2011 for his substantial contributions to the music of JS Bach. He was knighted in 2010 for 'Services to Science, Music and Charity'.
The Jean Meikle Music Trust
The Jean Meikle Music Trust was established in 2005 in memory of Jean Meikle, a passionate lover of song and chamber music in all its forms, and a devotee of Wigmore Hall.
The Trust seeks to encourage the art of song through performance and education. Recent grants have been awarded to Leeds Lieder+, for their outstanding education work, and to the Oxford Lieder Festival, for their enterprising music club scheme.
In 2015 JMMT is proud once again to fund the Song Duo Prize at the Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition, awarded to the most outstanding singer/pianist partnership in the competition.
The Richard Tauber Prize
The Anglo-Austrian Music Society was founded in London in the autumn of 1942 by a small group of Austrian refugee musicians and British friends – initially as a means of surviving in exile, but also to promote the appreciation and understanding of Austrian music in Britain. Over the years, the Anglo-Austrian Music Society has sponsored appearances by such renowned artists as Elisabeth Schumann, Maggie Teyte, Kathleen Ferrier, Richard Tauber, Bruno Walter, Clemens Krauss, Gerald Moore, Myra Hess, Josef Krips, Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears.
Richard Tauber's last stage appearance was as Ottavio in Don Giovanni with the Vienna State Opera company at Covent Garden on 27 September 1947 on a visit arranged by the Anglo-Austrian Music Society. In 1950 the Anglo-Austrian Music Society established the Richard Tauber Fund in memory of the great Austrian tenor. Since then the Society has made 30 awards. Preliminary auditions were held in London and in Vienna, and the public final audition was held at Wigmore Hall, which was also the venue for the prizewinning recital. Previous Richard Tauber Prizewinners have included Simon Keenlyside, William Dazeley, Jane Irwin, Jonathan Lemalu, Anna Leese, Christopher Ainslie, Robin Leggate, Alexander Oliver and Richard Angas.
The Anglo-Austrian Music Society has decided in future to award a Richard Tauber Prize for the best interpretation of Schubert Lieder as part of the eminent Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition.