Philippe Braunschweig: Founder of the Prix de Lausanne ballet competition

The name of Philippe Braunschweig may be less familiar than the name of his creation, but that is a measure of its success. The Prix de Lausanne, which he founded in 1973, has been a major signpost in the career of many great ballet dancers; past winners who have gone on to become international stars include Carlos Acosta, Darcey Bussell and Diana Vishneva.

The Prix de Lausanne was the result of a series of encounters, with Philippe Braunschweig at their centre. He was born in 1928, the scion of a Jewish watch-making family, in the Swiss canton of Neuchâtel at La Chaux-de-Fonds, the birthplace of Le Corbusier. At first he seemed destined to devote all his energies to the family business, Portescap. But as well as eventually becoming CEO of the firm, Braunschweig, who had studied physics at university, discovered another side to the physical and temporal world: that of the human body in harmonious and rhythmic motion.

Aged 20 and admiring the discipline of ballet, he had started lessons in Cannes and there he met his future wife, a dancer of Russian origin with the Ballet de Nice, Elvire Krémis. They married in 1952 and watched ballet round the world, including Maurice Béjart's Ballet du XXème Siècle in Brussels and Fonteyn and Nureyev in London. In 1972, on a visit to Cannes, they entered discussions with the great American ballerina Rosella Hightower (who then had a school in Cannes) about launching a competition in Lausanne the following year.

Hightower and Béjart agreed to offer the winners a year's scholarship in their schools, as did the Royal Ballet School in London. From the 30 competitors of the first Prix de Lausanne in 1973 the event expanded into a major ballet event. Today, a maximum of 75 candidates are selected from around the world and the number of participating schools has grown to 67. Today the competition's mission is to reveal the potential of talented dancers aged 15-18 and open doors to some of the best schools, and in certain cases to offer internships in leading companies.

Braunschweig was always conscious of the brevity of a dancer's performing life and with this in mind he created the OIRDP (Organisation internationale pour la reconversion des danseurs professionnels). Based in Lausanne, OIRDP supports dancers dealing with the psychological and economic stresses of retirement and helps them, where possible, to retrain in other careers.

In 1986, following the decline of the Swiss watch-making industry, Braunschweig sold his business to concentrate mostly on his dance activities. When Béjart ran into difficulties with the Brussels Théâtre de la Monnaie, it was Braunschweig who had the initiative to invite him to Lausanne to start the Béjart Ballet Lausanne in 1987. He was also on several Swiss business and science committees. He retired from running the Prix de Lausanne in 1997 and the same year was awarded a Médaille d'Or by Lausanne. He was also a Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur.

Philippe Braunschweig, businessman and founder of the Prix de Lausanne: born La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland 1928; married 1953 Elvire Krémis (died 2007; one son, one daughter); died Vevey, Switzerland 3 April 2010.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss