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Stop Press: Music News

Award to Sir Ralph Kohn

Sir Ralph Kohn

On January 21, Sir Ralph Kohn, FRS, the distinguished baritone, scientist and philanthropist, was awarded one of the highest distinctions Germany can offer, the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

At a ceremony at the German Embassy the Chargé d’Affaires Dr Rudolf Adam praised Sir Ralph Kohn’s invaluable contribution to British-German ties, in particular through his promotion and support of German music. Kohn, born in Leipzig in 1927, left Germany with his family as a result of Nazi anti-Semitic persecution, moving first to Holland and then in 1940 to Manchester. After training and working as a biochemist, he combined his skills in science and business, eventually to win the Queen’s Export Award for his contribution to the pharmaceutical industry.

Through the Kohn Foundation, established in 1991, Sir Ralph supported initiatives in science, medicine and the arts, especially his first love: the music of Bach. Amongst those projects are the annual Kohn Bach prize at the Royal Academy and the RAM/Kohn Bach Cantata series as well as support for the Leipzig Bach Archive and Festival.

Sir Ralph is a trustee of the Bach archive and both his name and that of his wife Zahava, a survivor of Bergen-Belsen, have been etched into the pillars of the Thomaskirche. Dr Adam expressed appreciation of Sir Ralph’s “generosity of spirit” and “magnanimous dedication”, observing that “It is through people like you that the horrible legacy of Nazism and of the war recedes and makes way to a new, rich life of friendship, trust, cooperation and peace”.






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