On Friday 2 October 2009 Nikolaus Harnoncourt was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual Gramophone awards ceremony in London. Celebrating his 80th birthday in 2009, Nikolaus Harnoncourt was born in Berlin, grew up in Graz (Austria) and studied the cello in Vienna, where from 1952 to 1969 he was a cellist with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. In 1972 he became Professor for Performance Practice at the Salzburg Mozarteum, a position he held until 1993. In 1953 Mr Harnoncourt and his wife Alice Harnoncourt founded the Concentus musicus Wien as a specialist ensemble for the performance of early music on original instruments. By 1957 he was giving regular concerts with the group, as well as making recordings of music from the 13th to the 18th century. Countless tours, including five to the United States, have taken the ensemble to every part of the world. 1993 marked the orchestra's 50th anniversary. Since 1970 Nikolaus Harnoncourt has worked as a conductor both in the opera house (he has appeared in Milan, Zürich, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Frankfurt and Vienna conducting a repertory ranging from Monteverdi to Johann Strauss), and in the concert hall, where he has worked with the great European orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Vienna Symphony, the London Philharmonia, and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, among others. He frequently collaborates with many of the world's most renowned soloists, including Martha Argerich, Gidon Kremer, Thomas Hampson, Dawn Upshaw, Cecilia Bartoli and Peter Seiffert, to name a few. Highlights of his career have included productions of operas by Monteverdi and Mozart at the Zürich Opera in stagings by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle and Jürgen Flimm, performances of Mozart, Haydn and Schubert with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the Beethoven symphony cycle with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Mr Harnoncourt's recording activities have expanded since 1970 to include the operas, oratorios and symphonic works of the 18th and 19th centuries. He has performed and recorded the complete symphonies and sacred works of Mozart, the complete symphonies of Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann and Brahms, as well as the late symphonies of Haydn and the Haydn Masses. He has also recorded Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, the piano and violin concertos of Schumann and the Brahms Violin Concerto and Double Concerto. Nikolaus Harnoncourt conducted the Vienna Philharmonic's 2001 New Year's Concert to rave reviews internationally. The live concert reached a television audience of many millions worldwide and the 2001 Teldec CD, issued one week later, has sold over 200,000 copies. Nikolaus Harnoncourt accepted the orchestra's invitation to conduct the New Year's Concert again in 2003. February 2002 marked the DVD-Audio release of Nikolaus Harnoncourt's Grammy award winning recording of Bach's St. Matthew Passion with Concentus musicus Wien. CD releases of 2002 included Dvoøák's Slavonic Dances opp 46 & 72 with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, which was received to much acclaim. In 2003 Warner Classics issued the ground-breaking new interpretations of the Beethoven piano concertos 1-5, with Pierre-Laurent Aimard as soloist plus a very rare recording of Dvoøák's Symphonic Poems, based on and composed around the dark poems of the Czech poet Karel Jaromír Erben. 2004 saw the release on one of the most important recordings of Harnoncourt's career: Beethoven's Triple Concerto, Choral Fantasy and Rondo in B flat with the dream team of Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Thomas Zehetmair, Clemens Hagen and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Nikolaus Harnoncourt's outstanding achievements have been recognised with numerous awards: the Erasmus Prize (1980) and the Hans Georg Nägeli Medal of the City of Zurich (1982). In 1983 he was appointed a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in Stockholm. In 1987 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Edinburgh. His recordings of Beethoven's Missa solemnis and Symphonies Nos. 1 - 9 with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the Arnold Schoenberg Choir received numerous distinctions, including the German Record Critics' Prize and Gramophone Magazine's Record of the Year Award in addition to selling nearly one million copies worldwide. In 1994, Mr. Harnoncourt was awarded the prestigious Polar Music Prize. His recordings of Beethoven’s Fidelio, Schumann’s Genoveva, and Bruckner's Symphony No. 7 won Belgium’s Caecilia Prize in 1996, 1998 and 2000 respectively. He received the 'Diapason d'Or du siècle' (January 2000) for Monteverdi's L'Orfeo and the Edison Award in March 2000 for Johann Strauss in Berlin. More recently, his recording of Bach's St. Matthew Passion won the 2002 Grammy Award for 'Best Choral Performance' and Belgium's Caecilia Prize. He received the Ernst von Siemens Prize for Lifetime Achievement in May 2002 and has also been presented with the most prestigious German award “pour le mérite”. As an exclusive Teldec recording artist for nearly forty years, Mr Harnoncourt enjoyed one of the longest relationships with a single recording company. He made his first recordings with what was then Telefunken in 1963, since which time he has made several hundred recordings on vinyl and compact disc during a career that has been charted with numerous television documentaries and three full-length books. An authorised biography of Nikolaus Harnoncourt by music journalist Monika Mertl was published in 1999.