Since 2009, ifa has been presenting an award to persons or organisations who, by virtue of their scientific, scholarly, social, socio-political, artistic, entrepreneurial or financial engagement, have made outstanding contributions to peace, international understanding and the dialogue of cultures.

The award orginates from an initiative of the Association of Friends of ifa. Until 2019, the distinction was named after Theodor Wanner (1875-1955) at whose urging  the German Foreign Institute (DAI), today's ifa, was founded in 1917.

Patron of the ifa Award is the Federal Foreign Minister. It is endowed with a grant of € 10,000  dedicated to a cultural and peace-building project chosen by the award recipient. In addition, she or he is presented with an artistic prize object as a visible token of appreciation. In co-operation with the Steidl publishing house, ifa also produces a portrait volume on each awardee.

The award recipients are selected by majority decision of a jury formed by the board of the Friends Association and ifa. The jury is free in its selection.


ifa Award 2021 – Igor Levit

The internationally lauded pianist and university professor Igor Levit is honoured with the 'ifa Award for the Dialogue of Cultures 2021' in recognition of his committed artistic and socio-political involvement across borders. The award was presented during a festive ceremony at the Allianz Forum Pariser Platz in Berlin on 14 September 2021. Claudia Roth, Vice-President of the German Bundestag, delivered the laudatory speech. The patron of the award is the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas.

Igor Levit © Felix Broede, Sony Classical
Igor Levit © Felix Broede, Sony Classical

From the statement of the award jury:

'The jury was deeply impressed by his committed political and social involvement: by the unwavering stance and personal courage he demonstrates when offering resistance to
right-wing extremism, anti-Semitism and racism. Levit – like only a few other contemporary artists – knows how to move the hearts of people with his art, and also with his political message, encouraging them to lead an open dialogue with the aim to understand other people's positions and to nurture communication. During a time when liberal democracy and its message of individuality and freedom are under immense pressure, this appears to be more important than ever.'

The New York Times describes Igor Levit as one of the 'most important artists of his generation'. Born in Nizhny Novgorod in 1987, Igor Levit moved to Germany with his family when he was eight years old. He completed his piano studies in Hanover with the highest academic and performance scores ever achieved in the university's history. He is the Artistic Director of the Chamber Music Academy and the festival Standpunkte (Standpoints) at the Heidelberg Spring music festival. In the spring of 2019, he was appointed a Professor of Piano at his alma mater, the Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media.

Igor Levit's awards include 'Artist of the Year 2020' of the Gramophone Classical Music Awards and Musical America's 'Recording Artist of the Year 2020'. In November 2020, he was nominated for a Grammy in the category 'Best Classical Instrumental Solo'.

Igor Levit has chosen the counselling centre HateAid (link to as the recipient of the prize money associated with his award. HateAid supports victims of digital violence – i.e. people who are insulted, defamed or threatened online – among other things by offering free counselling and funding legal costs. The donor of this year's prize money of 10,000 euros is the BAO Foundation of Prof. Dr. Brigitte Oetker and Dr. Arend Oetker.

Photo Gallery Award Ceremony 2021

ifa Colloquium 2021

In the context of the presentation of the 'ifa Award for the Dialogue of Cultures 2021' to Igor Levit, for the first time the 'ifa Colloquium' took place, a format for the discussion and exploration of topics relevant to the future of foreign cultural and educational policy.
With the theme 'Culture + Freedom', the pilot event referred to the volume 'Culture and Freedom – Description of a Crisis', published in cooperation with Steidl-Verlag in spring 2021.
In each of three half-hour sessions, one position from the volume was presented by its author and discussed with an external guest. The first session was partly conducted in English.

Further information and programme in German here.

The entire event on Twitter: