Queen Elisabeth Competition
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The Queen Elisabeth Competition (Dutch: Koningin Elisabethwedstrijd, French: Concours musical international Reine Élisabeth) is an international competition for career-starting musicians held in Brussels. The competition is named after Queen Elisabeth of Belgium (1876-1965). It is a competition for classical violinists (from 1937 to present), pianists (from 1938—), singers (from 1988—) and cellists (from 2017—). It also used to hold international competitions for composers from 1953 to 2012.
Since its foundation it is considered one of the most challenging and prestigious competitions for instrumentalists. In 1957 the Queen Elisabeth Competition was one of the founding members of the World Federation of International Music Competitions.
Eugène Ysaÿe, Belgian concert-violinist, wanted to set up an international music competition for young virtuosi showcasing their all-round skill, but died before he could do so. Queen Elisabeth, patroness of the arts and good friend of Ysaÿe, set up the competition in his memory in 1937. The prestige of Ysaÿe and Belgium's Royal Court (King Albert and Queen Elisabeth were admired heroes of the First World War) assured that the first competition would draw great entrants.
The first two editions of the competition, in 1937 for violin and in 1938 for piano, were named after Ysaÿe. World War II and other impediments prevented the competition from taking place from 1940 to 1950.
In 1951, the competition was renamed for its patroness, Queen Elisabeth, and has taken place under that name since then. Entrants are expected to learn a compulsory work written especially for the competition. (The work is picked during the composition competition.) Usually there is also a section where contestants are expected to perform a work by a Belgian composer. From 1963 to 1980, Marcel Poot of the Brussels Conservatory chaired the jury of the competition and wrote several commissioned works to mark the occasion, that were used as competition-required pieces.
The competition restarted with four-year cycles, starting with two consecutive years for violin and piano respectively, followed by a year for international composition competitions. The fourth year of each cycle had no competition. The years 1973 to 1974 were a transition to cycles with instrument competitions in even years, and the internationional composition competition in the year between the violin and the piano competitions, until the early 1980s when the cycles were re-arranged again.
|1951||X||For Belgian composers|
|1952||X||For Belgian composers|
|1955||X||For Belgian composers|
|1956||X||For Belgian composers|
|1959||X||For Belgian composers|
|1960||X||For Belgian composers|
|1963||X||For Belgian composers|
|1964||X||For Belgian composers|
|1967||X||For Belgian composers|
|1968||X||For Belgian composers|
|1971||X||For Belgian composers|
|1972||X||For Belgian composers|
|1975||X||For Belgian composers|
|1976||X||For Belgian composers|
|1978||X||For Belgian composers|
|1980||X||For Belgian composers|
|1983||X||For Belgian composers|
|1985||X||For Belgian composers|
With the competition for voice (singing) introduced in 1988 the four-year cycles were piano → voice → violin → year without performer competition. Before 2002 there were no composition competitions in even years.
|Composition for Belgian composers||X||X||X||X||X|
|Composition for Belgian composers||X||X||X||X||X|
From 2007 there were no longer years without competition for performers: with three disciplines (piano, voice, violin), each of these returned in a three-year cycle.
There were competitions for composition in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012, each of these for the performance piece of the instrumentalist finale of the next year.
2015 and beyond
Patronage and prizes
The Queen Elisabeth Competition generates income from its own activities, from private patronage and from sponsoring. Resources are varied: part of the funding for the prizes laureates receive is provided by public authorities and patrons, corporate sponsors, donors contributions, ticket and programme sales, advertising in the programmes and the sale of recordings. The Competition also benefits from the volunteer assistance of families who open their homes to candidates for the duration of the competition.
Prizes for the finalist performing musicians (amounts as awarded in the 2015 violin competition):
- First prize, International Queen Elisabeth Grand Prize - Prize of the patron Queen (as of 2015: Queen Mathilde Prize): 25,000 euro, numerous concerts, recording on CD; for the violin competition also: loan of the 'Huggins' Stradivarius violin from the Nippon Music Foundation until the next violin competition.
- Second Prize, Belgian Federal Government Prize: 20,000 euro, concerts, recording on CD
- Third Prize, Count de Launoit Prize: 17,000 euro, concerts
- Fourth Prize, Prize awarded alternately by each of the communities of Belgium (2015: awarded by the Government of the Federation Wallonia-Brussels): 12,500 euro, concerts
- Fifth Prize, Brussels Capital Region Prize: 10,000 euro, concerts
- Sixth Prize, City of Brussels Prize: 8,000 euro, concerts
- For the other six laureates, sums donated by the Belgian National Lottery: 4,000 euro each
Finalists, laureates and winners
The competition was held for violinists and pianists from 1937 and 1938 respectively. The international competition for composers started in 1953. For singers the competition was first held in 1988, and for cellists in 2017.
A 1996 study that looked at the fairness of the final ranking of the competition found that ranking was not independent of the day the musician performed on. Broadly, playing earlier in the competition put musicians at a disadvantage.
Competitions for performing musicians have 12 finalists performing as a soloist before a full symphonic orchestra. Originally all finalists became ranked laureates, later only the first six laureates were ranked. The first editions of the competition were dominated by candidates from the USSR: the 1937 violin competition was won by David Oistrakh and the next year Emil Gilels won the piano competition. The piano competition of 1952 and the violin competition of 1955 were the first to see winners from the United States. By the time of the 50th competition in 2012 an increasing number of Asian contestants reached the finals. In the 21st century the top 5 prize winners have received prizes between 10,000 and 25,000 euro, other laureates receiving amounts below 10,000 euro.
|1988||Aga Winska||Jeanette Thompson||Huub Claessens||Jacob Will||Yvonne Schiffelers|
|1992||Thierry Félix||Reginaldo Pinheiro||Wendy Hoffman||Regina Nathan||Cristina Gallardo-Domâs|
|1996||Stephen Salters||Ana Camelia Ştefănescu||Eleni Matos||Mariana Zvetkova||Ray Wade|
|2000||Marie-Nicole Lemieux||Marius Brenciu||Olga Pasichnyk||Pierre-Yves Pruvot||Lubana Al Quntar|
|2004||Iwona Sobotka||Hélène Guilmette||Shadi Torbey||Teodora Gheorghiu||Diana Axentii|
|2008||Szabolcs Brickner||Isabelle Druet||Bernadetta Grabias||Anna Kasyan||Yury Haradzetski|
|2011||Haeran Hong||Thomas Blondelle||Elena Galitskaya||Anaïk Morel||Konstantin Shushakov|
|2014||Sumi Hwang||Jodie Devos||Sarah Laulan||Yu Shao||Hyesang Park|
|2018||Samuel Hasselhorn||Eva Zaïcik||Ao Li||Rocío Pérez||Héloïse Mas|
|2017||Victor Julien-Laferrière||Yuya Okamoto||Santiago Cañón||Aurélien Pascal||Ivan Karizna|
The first international Queen Elisabeth Competition for composition was held in 1953. Composition competitions had less laureates or finalists, with usually only the winners who see their winning piece performed in the final of the competitions for instrumentalists receiving broad media attention.
|1953||Composition for symphony orchestra||Michał Spisak||Serenade|
|1957||Composition for symphony orchestra||Orazio Fiume||Concerto per orchestra|
|Composition for chamber orchestra||Michał Spisak||Concerto giocoso|
|1961||Composition for symphony orchestra||Albert Delvaux||Sinfonia burlesca|
|Composition for chamber orchestra||Giorgio Cambissa||Concerto per ochestra da camera n. 3|
|1965||Composition for symphony orchestra||Rudolf Brucci||Synfonia lesta|
|Composition for violin and orchestra||Wilhelm Georg Berger||Concert|
|1969||Composition for symphony orchestra||Nicolae Beloiu||Symphonie en deux mouvements|
|Composition for piano and orchestra||Ray E. Luke||Concerto for piano|
|1977||Composition for symphony orchestra||Hiro Fujikake||Rope Crest|
|Composition for string quartet||Akira Nishimura||Heterophony|
|1982||Composition for symphony orchestra||John Weeks||Five Litanies for Orchestra|
|1991||Composition||Tristan-Patrice Challulau||Ne la città dolente|
|1999||Composition||Uljas Pulkkis||Tears of Ludovico|
|2001||Composition||Søren Nils Eichberg||Qilaatersorneq|
|2002||Composition||Ian Munro||Piano Concerto Dreams|
|2004||Composition||Javier Torres Maldonado||Obscuro Etiamtum Lumine|
|2006||Composition||Miguel Gálvez-Taroncher||La luna y la muerte|
|2011||Composition||Kenji Sakai||Concerto pour violon et orchestre|
|2012||Composition||Michel Petrossian||In the wake of Ea pour piano et orchestre|
Media coverage and prizes awarded by audiences
The competition was covered on the Belgian radio from its first edition, the press writing about contestants and their performances. Broadcasting via television expanded in the 1960s. French-language and Dutch-language Belgian broadcasting organizations started to award prizes based on the preferences of their audiences from 1975 and 1991 respectively. Abdel Rahman El Bacha, Pierre-Alain Volondat, Severin von Eckardstein and Denis Kozhukhin were among the few contestants that were as convincing to the competition jury as to the general audience. Recorded performances were commercialised from 1967. In the 21st century recordings of the competitors' performances were streamed live on the internet and/or made available as video or audio downloads, followed by social media discussions.
- "In 2017 eerste Koningin Elisabethwedstrijd voor cello" in De Standaard, 19 January 2015
- All competitions at Queen Elisabeth Competition website
- Queen Elisabeth Competition - Brussels at the World Federation of International Music Competitions website
- "1937 and 1938" at Queen Elisabeth Competition website
- "1951: a new departure" at Queen Elisabeth Competition website
- CELLO 2017 – Presentation at Queen Elisabeth Competition website
- VIOLIN 2015 – Prizes at Queen Elisabeth Competition website
- Flôres, Jr, Renato G. and Ginsburgh, Victor A. The Queen Elisabeth Musical Competition: How Fair is the Final Ranking? Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series D (The Statistician) Vol. 45, No. 1 (1996), pp. 97-104 (8 pages)
- Alexei Gorokhov at Queen Elisabeth Competition website
- "Koreaanse pianist weigert prijs" in De Standaard, 11 June 2003
- Victor Julien-Laferrière wins the first cello competition ! at Queen Elisabeth Competition website (4 June 2017)
- "Compulsory works and composition competitions" at Queen Elisabeth Competition website
- "Media" at Queen Elisabeth Competition website
- www.cmireb.be – website of the Queen Elisabeth Competition
- Data regarding competition finals collected by M-P & J-M Lambert
- Biography at Andrey Baranov website