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Stockholm prepares for the Nobel Prize ceremony with a concert at the Stockholm Concert Hall

Stockholm prepares for the Nobel Prize ceremony with a concert at the Stockholm Concert Hall

2023. December 10.
9 perc

The Stockholm Concert Hall has seen a lot and still has a lot more to see. Two days after the concert on 8 December 2023 organised in honour of the Nobel Prize winners, this fascinating building will host the world's most prestigious award ceremony on 10 December. Among the distinguished attendees of the concert were the Nobel laureates and the esteemed members of the Swedish royal family.

Report by Ilona Újszászi, our correspondent at the Stockholm Nobel Week:

Columns illuminated by string lights draw the eye upwards. Those attending the concert in honour of the Nobel laureates looked up at the facade of the ”Konserthuset Stockholm”, the Nobel flag symbolising the honoured role of the place. Many people were busy taking selfies and photos in front of the entrance. The big day has arrived: they could finally attend the Nobel Prize Concert on 8 December 2023, starting at 7 p.m. 


Inaugurated in 1926, the Stockholm Concert Hall was designed by Ivar Tengbom and is home to the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. Photo by Gábor Tamás Negyedczky Szabó

If cloakrooms could talk

Music lovers from the Swedish capital and the country were waiting in front of the cloakroom. Women had swapped their winter snow boots for elegant high heels. Men were adjusting their ties as they helped their partners in the cloakroom. Some of them were looking around with champagne glasses in their hand. Among them mingled the guests of the Nobel laureates, who had been brought in separate buses from Stockholm's most exclusive hotel, the Grand Hotel.

At the first ring of the bell, the ladies and gentlemen, dressed for the special occasion, started walking slowly towards the music hall. Above the huge auditorium on the ground floor, there was a high and spacious box stand, with a 'rooster's seat' above it. At the top of a wide staircase, doors opened from the lobby to the concert hall.


On 10 December, the members of the royal family and the Nobel laureates, along with their guests, will replace the musicians on the stage.

The orchestra was tuning up. The hall was full. The room was alive with conversation. Everywhere you looked, you saw men flexing in suits.Kondorosi_Eva_es_Duda_Erno_j

Éva Kondorosi and Ernő Duda were also present at this remarkable event.

Among Katalin Karikó's guests, Ernő Duda stood out with his bow tie. The majority of the women preferred dark tones when choosing their formal attire. The ever-elegant Éva Kondorosi, for instance, wore a black, form-fitting dress made up of intertwining black flowers that ended in delicate petals at the neckline. The soft black stole made the outfit comfortable even in the Swedish chill..

Next to the royal opera box

The wide corridor behind the royal box was still open to the curious visitor. After a few minutes, however, only Nobel laureates and their relatives were allowed to enter this corridor.

- "Greetings to Ferenc Krausz," an acquaintance greeted the Nobel Prize winner in Hungarian. After a warm handshake and a friendly smile, everyone hurried to their seats in the concert hall.


Katalin Karikó, her family, and her guests sat in the front row of the upper boxes of the crowded auditorium.

Katalin Karikó sat next to her husband, Béla Francia, their family members were behind them. Their daughter, two-time Olympic champion Zsuzsanna Francia, sat with her husband on one side, while on the other side was Zsuzsa Karikó, the Nobel Prize-winning mRNA researcher’s sister.

- The soloist, Julia Fischer, is an excellent violinist - said Gábor Tamás Negyedczky Szabó as he leafed through the programme. As a music expert, he tried to block out the external noises. He closed his eyes. He tried to immerse himself in the upcoming musical experience.

The majority of the audience took finally their comfortable seats. Even those sitting in the seats facing the podium were looking towards the royal box. Everyone's eyes were on the renowned celebrities and distinguished researchers who had been in the news in the scientific world and on the previous Nobel Week programmes in Stockholm.


The Nobel laureates and their families sat in the front row, to the right and to the left of the royal box.

- "It would be good to figure out the logic of the seating plan," someone remarked. The royal box, facing the orchestra, separated the Nobel Prize-winning scientists in Physiology, Physics and Chemistry. On the right of the royal family was the Swedish-French Anne L'Huillier and her husband, next to them was the American Drew Weissman and her spouse, and finally Moungi Bawendi, one of the recipients of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. To the left of the royal box, in the front row, sat French-American Pierre Agostini and his companion, Ferenc Krausz and his wife, followed by Louis E. Brus and his partner; in the next block, Béla Francia and Katalin Karikó, and next to them Claudia Goldin- the Nobel Prize winner in Economics- and her partner. Interestingly, the floor behind the orchestra was also used by the audience.

Just like in previous years, the orchestra will move to the place of the audience on 10 December - on the day of the Nobel Prize ceremony - and will hand over the podium to the laureates and guests of honour.

Almost everyone found their place in one of the world's most famous concert halls by the time the members of the Swedish royal family and their guests arrived and occupied the royal box.

Pictures inspired by music

Before the concert, in the usual buzz, a camera attached to the end of a huge handle moved as a test. It was operated by a young woman working on the left side of the upper box row. Thanks to her and two other cameras and operators, the concert broadcast became a spectacular live show.

Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, led the audience across a musical bridge spanning from the 18th to the 21st century. The world-renowned Finnish conductor performed works by Luigi Boccherini, Johannes Brahms and Maurice Ravel, as well as works by contemporary composer Gabriella Smith.

- Thank you for dedicating your lives to using your curiosity, perseverance, and creativity to ensure that your work inspires us and gives us hope, which is so important in times of despair and growing conflict," said Laura Sprechmann, President of Nobel Prize Outreach, addressing the Nobel laureates from the podium.

The columns of light that move to the sound of music on the walls of the concert hall were inspired by this year's Nobel Prize in Physics: the researcher who created flashes of light to illuminate the movement of electrons.

- How often do you ask yourself if you would have liked to meet the person you were two hundred years ago? - asked Stefan Forsberg. The director of the Koncerthuset Stockholm and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra used colourful words to prepare the audience for the images inspired by the music that was about to be performed.

Be part of the concert in honour of the 2023 Nobel laureates! Click on the link below to listen to the musical treat that Stockholm gave this year's Nobel laureates:


The bittersweet magic of the break

It's like being in Madrid, where Luigi Boccherini spent much of his time two hundred years ago. The military band arrives. You hear it coming closer and closer, then it passes under the balcony where you are standing. As they march, the music gradually fades away, and then silence surrounds...

The violinist Julia Fischer was greeted with thunderous applause. Julia’s mother came from the town of Košice, which once belonged to Hungary. The artist, who plays the violin and piano with great passion, signed her name in one of her biographies as Júlia, with a long 'u'. Sándor Márai, who emigrated from his hometown of Košice to another country, had already written down the additional meaning of the accented letters. But Julia Fischer was now concentrating on something else. She was performing Johannes Brahms' Violin Concerto in D Major, Op 77, for the music-loving audience at the Nobel Week in Stockholm.

"If you haven't heard the Violin Concerto in D major with Julia Fischer, then you've never really heard it," I heard from an enthusiastic fan. "In Julia Fischer's interpretation, I feel like I understand Brahms," added another.


- It is a tradition for the people of Stockholm to toast with champagne and to taste a chocolate coin wrapped in shiny, gold paper, similar to the Nobel medal- said the Hungarian ambassador. In the upstairs lounge, Adrien Müller personally greeted the Hungarian Nobel laureates, including Katalin Karikó and her guests.

During the break of the concert, Katalin Karikó had a kind word for every guest. The group of friends warmly welcomed Zsuzsanna Francia, who appeared among them for the first time accompanied by her small family. She had arrived in Stockholm a few hours earlier. The loving conversation, recalling memories, was interrupted by the sound of the bell calling them back to the concert hall.

Gabriella Smith, the young composer, was inspired by the waves of the Pacific Ocean. It must have been a real challenge for the musicians of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra to bring to life the sound of screeching seagulls, the approaching waves crashing against the rocks, and the roar of sea foam melting into the sand, in the concert hall.

The music of Maurice Ravel brought a sharp change of mood. The "Konserthuset Stockholm" bade farewell to the Nobel Prize winners and their guests with the passionate voices of Daphnis and Chloé. The concert hall of the Swedish capital welcomes back its distinguished guests with new decorations and equipment, promising uplifting moments for the Nobel Prize ceremony on December 10, 2023.


Ilona Újszászi

Photos by I. Ú., G. Sz.

Translated by R. F-K./NKI

Read more articles on Nobel Weeks 2023.

Watch the lectures by Katalin Karikó, Ferenc Krausz, and the other Nobel laureates in Stockholm and the live broadcast of the Nobel Prize ceremony here.