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Balzan Prizes 2012 to be Announced on 10 September in Milan

7/19/2012 9:51:11 AM

Milan, 19 July 2012 - The Prizewinners of the four Balzan Prizes 2012 for

- Jurisprudence,

- Musicology,

- Solid Earth Sciences, with emphasis on interdisciplinary research


- Epigenetics

will be officially announced in Milan, Italy, on Monday, 10 September 2012 at the Fondazione Corriere della Sera at 6 pm. The event will be open to the public, and will take place in the Buzzati Hall, Via Balzan 3.

After an opening speech by the Chairman of the International Balzan Foundation - "Prize", Bruno Bottai, the Chairman of the General Prize Committee, Salvatore Veca, will announce the winners and read the citations. Thereafter background on the four winners will be presented by the following members of the General Prize Committee, who are each in charge of one of the four prize subjects: Antonio Padoa Schioppa, Gottfried Scholz, Enric Banda and Marc Van Montagu.

Each year the winners of the Balzan Prizes are announced in Milan in the first half of September. The awards ceremony takes place in November and is held in alternating years in Italy and Switzerland. When in Rome it is held in the presence of the President of the Republic of Italy. In Bern, it is held in the presence of one of the Members of the Federal Council, usually the Head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs.

The awards ceremony 2012 will be held in Rome.

The International Balzan Foundation, founded in 1957, operates through two separate institutions. The International Balzan Foundation - "Prize" (chaired in Milan by Ambassador Bruno Bottai) selects the subjects to be awarded and the candidates through its General Prize Committee. The International Balzan Foundation "Fund" (chaired in Zurich by Achille Casanova) administers the estate left by Eugenio Balzan.




In the public sphere regarding the knowledge of the most broad legal issues, many distinctions are blurred, such as confusion over the terms "rights" and "law", particularly in the context of their use in the media. If this ambiguity is due to the pervasiveness of the use of political language in explaining the basic concepts that govern society, it is therefore down to philosophers (and theorists of law) to clarify what constitutes such rights (both abstract and universal) and to define in theory what is the law (both its concrete basis and handed down practice). In embodying this sentiment in an interdisciplinary context the International Balzan Foundation has attempted to unify philosophy and specific legal theory in promoting an overarching analysis of the law. In a multicultural world where there is an ethical, social, legal and historical prerogative to eliminate flaws in systems that hitherto seemed solid, there is a pressing need for an up to date definition of the law. One must, therefore, once again turn to philosophy and to theoretical observation to find a rigorous way to define common practice. The 2012 Balzan Prize for Jurisprudence may therefore be considered a summary of precedents, which have ranged from the field of history (Norberto Bobbio, Michael Stolleis) through theory (Jean Rivero, Pierre Lalive d´Epinay), to practice (Paul Reuter and Rosalyn Higgins, among the first to assume senior UN positions, the latter becoming President of the International Court of Justice in The Hague).

Previous Balzan Prizewinners for Law

1981 Reuter, France, International Public Law

1986 Rivero, France, Basic Human Rights

1990 Lalive d´Epinay, Switzerland, Private International Law

1994 Bobbio, Italy, Law and Political Science 2000 Stolleis, Germany, Legal History since 1500

2007 Higgins, UK, International Law since 1945


The phenomenon of music has in modern times been enriched by numerous - contributions some quite unexpected. This has resulted in the emergence of new musical disciplines: ethnomusicology, the related music archeology and also musical therapy, which now join the more classical elements of philology, history, acoustics, aesthetics and didactics. New genres and, especially, the contact with and the analysis of non-European cultures have had an exponential effect in generating new facets in the musical prism. From the mid-twentieth century onward, particularly with the pioneering academic work of Curt Sachs and the innovative compositions of Béla Bartók, the study of music has been enriched by detailed research and copious documentation of the field. These are the characteristics which have been combined to set the complex parameters which will determine the awarding of the 2012 Balzan Prize. The fact that, in matters of chronological sequence, music has been awarded a Balzan Prize only on three separate occasions does not so much reflect a lack of consideration of the subject, but rather the necessity of an arduous, complex and extremely detailed evaluation of a field of artistic creation that has myriad facets, for the purposes of fairly and accurately determining the award of a Balzan Prize. However, this difficulty was addressed in 2001 by focusing on musical studies rather than actual musical creation, and thus one should appreciate the fact that the research projects are now a significant element of the Balzan Prize, as Ludwig Finscher (2006) has amply demonstrated in his minutely detailed publication project. One should also bear in mind that the Balzan Prize has been awarded to two of the greatest musical personalities of the twentieth century: Paul Hindemith and György Ligeti.

Previous Balzan Prizewinners for Music and Musical Studies

1962 Hindemith, Germany, Music

1991 Ligeti, Austria/Hungary/Romania, Music

2006 Finscher, Germany, History of Western Music since 1600


Earth Sciences, in its most broad interpretation, is in the first instance derived from geology, and then on a wider level encompasses the contributions of physics, chemistry, biology, also relies on significant inputs from the fields of engineering and meteorology. The field is thus already an obvious example of the interdisciplinary nature that constitutes one of the essential vocations of a Balzan Prize. Therefore it has been revived as a subject in 2012, focusing specifically on the aspects concerning Solid Earth Sciences. The previous Balzan Prizes awarded in the field of Solid Earth Sciences have particular relevance for the development of this science. The Prizewinners include Dan McKenzie, Frederick Vine and Drummond Matthews, whose research resulted in the theory of plate tectonics, James Freeman Gilbert, who produced significant new studies and models regarding the deeper layers of the Earth´s crust, and Russell Hemley and Ho-kwang Mao, responsible for fundamental advances, both theoretical and experimental, in the field of minerals subjected to extreme physical conditions. The contributions Hemley and Mao, who have completed their extensive program of research endeavours in relation to their Balzan Research Project, have provided new bases for studies in other disciplines (e.g., astronomy, in terms of the internal structure of planets), boosting an interdisciplinary approach as highlighted again this year.

Previous Balzan Prizewinners in the Earth Sciences

1981 McKenzie, Matthews, Vine, UK, Geology and Geophysics

1986 Revelle, USA, Oceanography/Climatology 1990 Gilbert, USA, Geophysics (Solid Earth)

1996 Eliassen, Norway, Meteorology

1998 Craig, USA, Geochemistry

2001 Lorius, France, Climatology

2002 Le Pichon, France, Geology

2005 Hemley and Mao, USA-USA/China, Mineral Physics

2008 Broecker, USA, Science of Climate Change


This discipline is at the cutting edge of modern science and deals with the modification of the expression of genes due to interaction with the environment, without any change to the DNA sequence. The environment impacts on the degree of activity of genes, not their actual structure. External factors to the cell may be introduced into the DNA markers, which can then deactivate or activate a gene and thereby inhibit or trigger the synthesis of a protein. It is one of the latest branches of study delineated in molecular biology. Determination of inherited traits is one of the central lines of epigenetic research, and is important because it highlights social factors. Current studies have focused in particular on neurons, where stress, depression and long-term drug use may change the activity of genes and thus affect brain function. Such changes in the behaviour of the subject may remain over a lifetime and therefore affect any offspring. Such a branch of innovative research represents an element of a discipline that the Balzan Prize has always tried to sustain. The Balzan Prize has in previous years highlighted the contributions of numerous eminent scientists in promoting the development of these studies.

Previous Balzan Prizewinners for Genetics and Molecular Biology

1984 Wright, USA, Genetics

1991 Maynard Smith, UK, Genetics and Evolution

1994 Couteaux, France, Biology - Cell Structure (Nervous System)

1999 Cavalli-Sforza, USA/Italy, Science of Human Origins

2001 Changeux, France, Cognitive Neurosciences

2002 Gehring, Switzerland, Developmental Biology

2003 Wen-Hsiung Li, USA/Taiwan, Genetics and Evolution

2006 Meyerowitz and Somerville, USA-Canada, Plant Molecular Genetics 2010 Yamanaka, Japan, Stem Cells: Biology and Potential Applications

2011 Lande, UK/USA, Theoretical Biology or Bioinformatics

Further information at

Media Contact:

Till C. Jelitto

PR&D - Public Relations for Research & Education - Vienna T +43 1 505 70 44 E

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