I’m just back from Madrid where I was on the jury for the 9th edition of the Fondación BBVA’s Frontiers of Knowledge Awards. The Foundation offers 8 awards annually across the sciences, including, unusually, ecology and climate change, and, even more unusually, contemporary music. These extraordinarily generous awards of 400,000 euros each have previously been given to 7 composers, including Kurtág, Lachenmann and Boulez. This year the jury made the award to Sofia Gubaidulina, in recognition of her unique voice and uncompromising integrity. Part of the citation can be read here. Gubaidulina, now in her eighty sixth year, had unplugged her phone in order to be undisturbed while composing. To let her know the news, her German publisher contacted the local chemist in the village near Hamburg where she lives, who alerted one of her neighbours. After replugging her phone she took part in a thoughtful but lively press conference in a conference call from Madrid the following day.