France's Society of Authors, Composers and Editors of Music (SACEM) awarded its Symphonic Music Grand Prix to Chinese composer Chen Qigang, Xinhua News Agency reported today.
Quoting SACEM sources in Beijing the day before, the report said Chen was the first non-French composer to receive the prize.
The symphony prize is the society's highest marking a musician's contribution, and over the past 150 years has been given Camille Saint-Saëns, Charles Gounod, Vincent d'Indy, Gabriel Fauré, Maurice Ravel, and Olivier Messiaen.
The SACEM was founded in 1850 by composer Hector Berlioz to protect musicians' intellectual property rights. Since then it has had more than 100,000 members, including Gioacchino Rossini, Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner, and managed the copyright of 25 million musical pieces.
Chen was born into an artistic family and began his music education at a young age. He graduated from the Central Conservatory of Music in 1983, majoring in composition. From 1984 to 1988, he studied in France with a grant from the French government and was accepted by Messiaen as his only student.
He has won many major international awards for his compositions, including first prize in the French Ministry of Culture's International Composition Contest and the 27th International Contest of Symphony Composition in Trieste, Italy.
Chen is now based in France and is artistic consultant to Cité de la musique in Paris.
(Xinhua News Agency December 9, 2005)