On Wednesday, 3 June, three people whose outstanding activities have contributed to strengthening the cultural, political and business ties between Austria and Lithuania were honoured at the Embassy of Austria in Vilnius.

Together with the Foundation of M. K. Čiurlionis, a non-profit organisation, Ambassador of Austria Dr. Johann Spitzer handed the Čiurlionis REX Cups and granted the titles of ‘Enlightened Personalities’ to Mag. Cornelius Hell, Dr. Arvydas Vidžiūnas and Mag. Erich Wagner.

Mag. Cornelius Hell was a German lecturer at Vilnius University where he also taught Austrian literature. He has been a most active contributor to the Austrian-Lithuanian relations, especially as the author of several books about Lithuania and as a Lithuanian-German translator. Mr. Hell is widely known in the media as the translator for the famous Lithuanian author Jurga Ivanauskaitė, although the list of books he translated includes many other well-known Lithuanian authors like Antanas Vienuolis, Žemaitė, Ričardas Gavelis, Juozas Erlickas, Vanda Juknaitė and Tomas Venclova. Mr. Hell has several awards under his belt, the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture’s “Carry Your Light and Believe” the highest honour among them.

The second nominee was Dr. Arvydas Vidžiūnas, a specialist in cultural history and linguistics, a seasoned politician, an MP and the chairman of the Parliamentary Group for Relations with the Republic of Austria. He has been a long-time contributor to the development of Austrian-Lithuanian relations, especially in the 45-year-old partnership between Lithuania and the Land of Salzburg.

The third nominee, Mag. Erich Wagner, was one of the founding members and the president of the Salzburg–Lithuanian Society and has been engaged in building strong ties between Austria and Lithuania for over three decades. He has served as an honorary consul of Lithuania in Salzburg, Tyrol, Carinthia and Vorarlberg since 2010. Between 1998 and 2000, Mr. Wagner, who is also an architect, was the head of the construction team for the restoration of the building that now houses the Embassy of Austria in Vilnius.

Many honourable guests attended the award ceremony. They had a chance to enjoy music by Austrian and Lithuanian composers, performed by musicians Mindaugas Jankauskas (tenor) and Rūta Blaškytė (piano). The pioneer of modernism Gustav Klimt was introduced during the ceremony too.

The Čiurlionis REX CUP Awards for Enlightened Personalities are held for the third time this year. The awards are presented by the Foundation of M. K. Čiurlionis and foreign embassies.

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