The Forberg-Schneider Foundation is awarding the 2020 Belmont Prize, with its € 20,000 cash endowment, to pianist-composer Florian Weber, hailed by the Munich-based foundation as an innovator in contemporary music.
Florian Weber’s musical frame of reference ranges from Maurice Ravel, Arnold Schoenberg and Karlheinz Stockhausen to Lee Konitz, John Taylor, Paul Bley and so-called world music. The mainstay of his music is improvisation. To quote the Foundation’s Board of Trustees: ‘His piano playing is as boundless in its possibilities as it is economical and focused.’
Weber views improvisation as a modern and spontaneous form of composing, sustained by open-mindedness and a love of discovery. His most recent New York quartet – with Ralph Alessi, Linda May Han Oh and Nasheet Waits – consists of musicians who ‘interest him most of all for the differences between them and their improvisational techniques’. The result of their collaboration, Lucent Waters, appeared on ECM in late 2018 to ecstatic reviews. He can also be heard on his 2016 ECM album Alba, a duo recording with trumpet player Markus Stockhausen.
Further ECM recordings with Florian Weber are in preparation. He appears on the forthcoming album La traversée by French saxophonist Matthieu Bordenave, scheduled for autumn 2020 release.
Florian Weber is the first jazz musican to be awarded the Belmont prize. Composers Jörg Widmann, Milica Djordjevic and Bruno Mantovani, violinist Carolin Widmann, music critic Alex Ross and the Quatuor Ebène string quartet have been among the earlier recipients.