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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 October, 2003, 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK
Polar prize salutes music legends
BB King
King was praised for "a rich recording history and tireless touring"
Blues guitarist BB King and Hungarian composer Gyorgy Ligeti have been named the 2004 winners of the Polar Music Prize, receiving 78,000 each.

The award, presented by the Royal Swedish Academy of Music, is seen as music's equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

King, 78, was cited for "significant contributions to the blues" and for "tireless touring" in the last 50 years.

The 80-year-old Ligeti was praised for "stretching the boundaries of the musically conceivable".

BB King has proven to be one of the most popular blues musicians in the world.

The US guitarist and singer, who guested with U2 on their single When Love Comes to Town in 1989, is famous for songs such as Sweet Sixteen, The Thrill is Gone and When It All Comes Down.

Shared award

King was cited for "a rich recording history and tireless touring lasting more than half a century [that has] made him one of the most prominent figures within the blues."

Ligeti, who is from Transylvania in Romania and survived a World War II labour camp, is best-known for the classical pieces Artikulation and Atmospheres. Some of his work was used in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The prize, traditionally shared between pop and classical artists, was set up in 1989 by Stig Anderson, the former manager of Swedish pop group Abba.

Past winners include Bruce Springsteen, Sir Paul McCartney, Isaac Stern and Quincy Jones.

Both King and Ligeti are expected to travel to Sweden to receive the award from King Carl XVI Gustaf on 24 May next year.

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