Led Zeppelin and Russian conductor Valery Gergiev win Polar Music Prize

The awards are likened to the Nobel Prize, with winners receiving one million kroner (Ј70,523) from the Royal Swedish Academy of Music.The academy said Led Zeppelin were "one of the great pioneers of rock".Gergiev was cited "for the way his unique electrifying musical skills have deepened and renewed our relationship with the grand tradition".

The winners will each get 1 million kronor ($123,000), the academy said on its Web site today. The prize was first awarded in 1992 after being established in 1989 by Stig `Stikkan' Anderson, the manager of pop group ABBA and founder of Polar Records. Past winners include Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Dizzy Gillespie and Isaac Stern. Brazil's Gilberto Gil and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, a German baritone, won the award last year.

The Academy also said "he has managed to develop and amplify the importance of artistic music in these modern changing times". As artistic and general director of the Mariinsky Theatre, he has dedicated 15 years striving to make it among the foremost opera companies in the world, BBC World reports.

Led Zeppelin split in 1980 following the death of drummer John Bonham, reuniting briefly for the Live Aid concert in 1985. The surviving members - Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones - continue to perform.

The Polar Prize was founded by Stig Anderson, the former manager of Swedish pop group Abba.

Previous winners have included Sir Paul McCartney, violinist Isaac Stern and music producer Quincy Jones.

The prize will be awarded by Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf at a ceremony on 22 May, Bloomberg reports. A.M.

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