Bugge Wesseltoft awarded Telenor Culture Prize 2020

5 minute read
Bugge Wesseltoft

The versatile and visionary musician receives the prestigious cultural award for his unique ability to create new links between different genres, cultures, and traditions.

Wesseltoft is one of the most recognised and productive artists on the Norwegian music scene. As a pianist, composer, and producer, he is an innovator who constantly challenges and renews established music genres.

“It feels almost unreal to receive this award. I am honoured and it means a lot to me, especially considering who sits on the jury and the basis on which the prize is awarded. Ever since I first understood the power music has as a form of communication, I have wanted to use music as my contribution to creating a better world. I believe strongly that we, through music, can create increased understanding and respect across borders and cultures,” says award winner Wesseltoft.

Honouring values

Telenor’s annual culture prize of NOK 500,000 honours artists or institutions in Scandinavia who have excelled in music, film, literature, visual arts, or performing arts. Since the prize was first awarded in 1995, both established artists and newer talents have received the honour.

“We are very pleased with the jury’s decision to select Bugge Wesseltoft as this year’s cultural prize winner. Wesseltoft’s work symbolises many of the values that Telenor embraces. He is an artist who explores, creates with others, and contributes to reducing inequalities by promoting other musicians,” says Sigve Brekke, President and CEO of Telenor Group.

Bugge Wesseltoft sitting by the piano
The jury highlights that few, if any, Scandinavian musicians are able to develop their own musical expressions like Wesseltoft.

Pushing established boundaries performer

“Wesseltoft’s ability to combine musical techniques from different genres, find inspiration in other cultures, and create new material based on old traditions from all over the world helps open new doors and push established boundaries. By daring to experiment with countless styles and expressions, he has created his very own sound,” says Martin Eia-Revheim, leader of the jury.

In its justification, the jury states that Wesseltoft’s attitude to music is characterised by a rare curiosity. Among other things, he has helped renew jazz through the innovative music group New Conception of Jazz. In collaboration with musician Sidsel Endresen, he also explored song classics in combination with his own material and created a new level that all other duos since have been measured against.

“Wesseltoft is also an equally enthusiastic communicator of others’ music as much as his own. As a producer, he has released hundreds of records in which established artists have been allowed to experiment and evolve, as well as new names in the business who have been given their first opportunity. This year’s award winner has always been keen to promote new voices in music, and he shows through a multitude of musicians from all over the world that music has qualities as a hub and is a universal language that creates unity,” adds Eia-Revheim.

Bugge Wesseltoft
“During his 40-year career, Bugge Wesseltoft has shown that he in every way lives up to the core value of the prize, boundless communication,” says jury leader Martin Eia-Revheim.

The Jury of 2020

Martin Eia-Revheim, project manager at Sparebankstiftelsen DNB and leader of the jury; Lars Saabye Christensen, author; Asta Busingye Lydersen, actress and singer in Queendom; Henrik Mestad, actor; Alexandra Archetti Stølen, festival manager at Oslo World; and Randi Enebakk Due, VP and Head of Group Event & Expo at Telenor Group.

About the Culture Prize

Telenor’s Culture Prize – “Boundless Communication” is a key element of the Telenor Culture Programme. The programme aims to bring together artists from different genres and cultural and to highlight exciting culture expression that creates diversity, engagement, and unique meeting places.

Read more about Telenor’s Culture Programme and previous recipients of Telenor’s Culture Prize


Martin Eia-Revheim, leader of the jury


Stian Kristoffer Sande

Communication Advisor

Telenor Group