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The 2023 Lion awards for music

The Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement goes to composer and producer Brian Eno (22 October); the Silver Lion to mathematician, programmer, and composer Miller Puckette (19 October).



Brian Eno  – composer, musician, producer, visual artist – will receive the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Biennale Musica 2023 “for his research into the quality, beauty and diffusion of digital sound and for his conception of the acoustic space as a compositional instrument”; Miller Puckette – mathematician, programmer, theoretician and performer – is awarded the Silver Lion “for designing and developing the software Max/Msp and Pure Data, two of the most important and widespread programmes for computer music, which provided new possibilities for successive generations of composers, musicians and multimedia artists”.

The decision was made by the Board of Directors of La Biennale di Venezia, which approved the recommendation made by Lucia Ronchetti, Director of the Music Department, in alignment with the theme of the 67th International Festival of Contemporary Music (16 - 29 October), Micro-Music, which aims to highlight “the fascination and richness of expression of digital sound”.

On October 19th (at 12 noon), the award ceremony for the Silver Lion to Miller Puckette will be held in the Sala delle Colonne at Ca’ Giustinian, the Biennale headquarters, followed by a conversation with American musicologist Nina Sun Eidsheim; on October 22nd (at 12 noon), again in the Sala delle Colonne at Ca’ Giustinian, Brian Eno will receive the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. The ceremony will be followed by a conversation with him and music critic Tom Service.


“From the very beginning of his career – writes Lucia Ronchetti in the motivation – Brian Eno’s compositions have been conceived in terms of a generative process that evolves in a potentially infinite time dimension, foreshadowing many of today’s compositional trends linked to digital sound. His conception of the recording studio as a meta-instrument for the purposes of composition, the domain for the processing, multiplication and assemblage of recorded sound fragments, acoustic simulacra and autonomous sound objects, has allowed Eno to create immersive electronic space that transforms and permeates the sound reality which surrounds us, in accordance with ever-changing dramaturgies. Thanks to his understanding of recorded music as a vast archive of infinitesimal sound fragments, an infinite acoustic palette at the disposal of the composer, a mise en abyme of music history, generative ambient music is perceived by Brian Eno as the conceptual creation of a seed that is able to develop, rather than as a tree already designed in every detail, invoking a compositional paradigm inspired by biology rather than by architecture, one able to evolve on its own and constantly generate new soundscapes”.

Aside from music, Brian Eno has expanded his personal creative development engaging a multiplicity of disciplines – painting, sculpture, video art. An expressive kaleidoscope that has been circulated through his works, featured in the various festivals of La Biennale di Venezia: in 1985 Brian Eno participated in the 42nd Venice International Film Festival (Video music section) with the 80-minute Thursday Afternoon, video paintingwhich he directed and for which he wrote the screenplay and music; the following year he presented one of his visual sculptures, Installazione di suoni, luci e video for the 42nd International Art Exhibition titled Art and Science (in the Biology, Technology and Computer Science section); he was invited back in 2006, this time to Biennale Musica, with a complex video-installation distributed across three connecting spaces, Painting like Music.  This year for Biennale Musica, Brian Eno will present the world premiere of his project Ships at the Teatro La Fenice on October 21st, in a performance featuring the Baltic Sea Philharmonic conducted by Kristjan Järvi, actor Peter Serafinowicz, and long-time collaborators, guitarist Leo Abrahams and software designer Peter Chilvers, interacting with the orchestral atmospheres diffused and processed for the theatre’s particular acoustic space. There will be two performances of the concert: at 3 pm and at 8 pm.

Brian Eno is the subject of Nothing Can Ever Be The Samea generative video art installation by American filmmaker Gary Hustwit and British digital artist Brendan Dawes, which may be viewed in its world premiere from October 22nd to 29th in the Sale d’Armi of the Arsenale. Nothing Can Ever Be The Same is a 168-hour-long immersive video piece which uses Eno’s music, ideas, art, and other documentary material to construct a vast palette of sounds and images which are interpreted by custom generative software. A groundbreaking piece of visual art, Nothing Can Ever Be The Same creates an ever-changing convergence between artistic creation and digital experimentation, and provides a unique vision into the development of the British composer’s art.


In the motivation for the Silver Lion Lucia Ronchetti writes: “In recognising the work of Miller Puckette, the Biennale Musica pursues its path of attributing the award to figures on the contemporary music scene who, through their programming, performance and collaboration with composers, have enabled the creation of numerous masterworks during recent decades in the history of music. Max/Msp, created by Miller Puckette at the end of the 1980s, was conceived as an IT environment in which to perform live electronic music, control sound installations, create virtual musical instruments, process sounds in real time in instrumental performance, and generate digital sounds and compositions for computer; it has become one of the programmes most frequently used by composers and performers throughout the world and has influenced the compositional development of the electronic music and real-time sound processing of successive generations of composers. Pure Data allows musicians, visual artists, performers, researchers and programmers to create software by means of graphic patches and can be used to process and generate sounds, video, 2D/3D graphics, and to interface sensors, input devices and MIDI”.

Well-known as the author of The Theory and Technique of Electronic Musicthe foundational text of the new audio culture, first published in 2007, Miller Puckette will be on stage at the Biennale Musica with the percussionist Irwin on October 18th at the Tese dei Soppalchi; he will also work as a tutor with the young artists selected for the Biennale College Musica.


In the past the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in Music has been awarded to Goffredo Petrassi (1994), Luciano Berio (1995), Friedrich Cerha (2006), Giacomo Manzoni (2007), Helmut Lachenmann (2008), György Kurtág (2009), Wolfgang Rihm (2010), Peter Eötvös (2011), Pierre Boulez (2012), Sofia Gubaidulina (2013), Steve Reich (2014), Georges Aperghis (2015), Salvatore Sciarrino (2016), Tan Dun (2017), Keith Jarrett (2018), George Benjamin (2019), Luis De Pablo (2020), Kaija Saariaho (2021), and Giorgio Battistelli (2022).

The Silver Lion has been awarded in the past to Vittorio Montalti and Francesca Verunelli (2010), RepertorioZero (2011), Quartetto Prometeo (2012), Fondazione Spinola Banna per l’Arte (2013), Ryo Murakami (2016), Dai Fujikura (2017), Sebastian Rivas (2018), Matteo Franceschini (2019), Raphaël Cendo (2020), Neue Vocalsolisten (2021), and Ars Ludi (2022).


Brian Eno (1948, Melton – Great Britain) - musician, producer, visual artist and activist - first came to international prominence in the early seventies as a founding member of British band, Roxy Music, followed by a series of solo albums and collaborations.

His work as producer includes albums with Talking Heads, Devo, U2, Laurie Anderson, James, Jane Siberry and Coldplay, while his long list of collaborations include recordings with David Bowie, Jon Hassell, Harold Budd, John Cale, David Byrne, Grace Jones, Karl Hyde, James Blake and most recently with his brother, Roger, on the album, Mixing Colours. In August 2021, they performed together for the very first time, and to a rapturous audience at the Acropolis in Athens.

Brian Eno’s visual experiments with light and video continue to parallel his musical career, with exhibitions and installations all over the globe. To date he has released over forty albums of his own music and exhibited extensively, as far afield as the Venice Biennale, St. Petersburg’s Marble Palace, Ritan Park in Beijing, Arcos de Lapa in Rio de Janeiro and the sails of the Sydney Opera House. He is a founding member of the Long Now Foundation, a trustee of Client Earth and patron of Videre est Credere. In April 2021, he launched EarthPercent, which raises money from the music industry for some of the most impactful environmental charities working on the climate emergency.

Miller Puckette (1959, Chattanooga – USA) obtained a B.S. in Mathematics from MIT (Cambridge, Massachusetts) in 1980 and Ph. D. in Mathematics from Harvard in 1986, winning an NSF graduate fellowship and the Putnam Prize Scholarship. He was a member of MIT’s Media Lab from its inception until 1987, and then a researcher at IRCAM in Paris. At IRCAM he wrote Max, a widely used computer music software environment, released commercially in 1990 and now available from

Puckette joined the music department of the University of California San Diego in 1994, where he is now Distinguished Professor, emeritus.

He is currently developing Pure Data (“Pd”), an open-source real-time multimedia arts programming environment. Puckette has collaborated with many artists and musicians, including Philippe Manoury (whose Sonus ex Machina cycle was the first major work to use Max), Rand Steiger, Vibeke Sorensen, Juliana Snapper, Kerry Hagan, and Irwin. Since 2004 he has performed with the Convolution Brothers. He has received honorary degrees from Université de Mons and Bath Spa University and the 2008 SEAMUS Lifetime Achievement Award.

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