The Library of Congress honored baritone Thomas Hampson with its Living Legend medal during a concert yesterday evening in the Library’s Coolidge Auditorium. Hampson, with pianist Wolfram Rieger, celebrated the birth anniversaries of Samuel Barber and Gustav Mahler, as well as offering a selection of American favorites.
“I am deeply honored and grateful to receive this award. As an American artist, it is humbling to be acknowledged and appreciated in this way by the Library of Congress and to contribute to the great and passionate dialogue of arts, humanities and performing arts in the United States,” said Hampson.
The Library’s Living Legend award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to America’s diverse cultural, scientific and social heritage. The first awards were given in 2000 in connection with the Library’s bicentennial celebrations, to honor Americans whose creative contributions to American life have made them living legends. Hampson, who has already been honored by the Library with the title of “Special Advisor for the Study and Performance of Music in America”, will be the 101st recipient of the award.
Other recipients of the award include artists, writers, filmmakers, physicians, entertainers, sports figures, public servants and musicians, among them Madeleine Albright, Katharine Graham, B.B. King, John Werner Kluge, Alan Lomax, I.M Pei, Sally Ride, Martin Scorsese, Pete Seeger and Yo Yo Ma.
“I cannot think of a more qualified, accomplished, or passionate ambassador for the Library of Congress, or a more deserving recipient of the Library’s 101st Living Legend award, than Thomas Hampson,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington.
Hampson has performed nearly 70 roles, including the title roles in Don Giovanni, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Guillaume Tell, Macbeth, Simon Boccanegra, Eugene Onegin, Massenet’s Werther, Busoni’s Doktor Faust, Szymanowski’s King Roger and Britten’s Billy Budd. He has taken the stage at the Metropolitan Opera, the Zurich Opera, the Vienna State Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the San Francisco Opera, the Opéra National de Paris, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and many other leading opera houses of the world.
Hampson’s honors include a Grammy, the Grand Prix du Disque, a Lifetime Achievement Award Edison Prize, Gramophone and Echo Klassik Awards, an Opera News Award for distinguished achievement, and Musical America’s “Vocalist of the Year”. In 2009 he received the Atlantic Council’s Award for Distinguished Artistic Leadership, and he was recently elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also Artistic Director and Founder of the Heidelberg Lied Academy in Germany and Distinguished Visiting Artist at Manhattan School of Music.