Queen Elisabeth Competition

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Official logo, English version.

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 (1938 to present), singers (1988 to present) and cellists (2017 to present).[1] It also used to hold international competitions for composers from 1953 to 2012.[2] The current Patron is Queen Mathilde of Belgium.

Since its foundation it has been 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.[3]


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.[4]


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.[4]

1937 1938
Violin X
Piano X


In 1951, the competition was renamed for its patroness, Queen Elisabeth, and has taken place under that name since then. It is one of three musical institutions (the others being the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel and Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, residence orchestra of the Queen Elisabeth Hall) dedicated to the former Queen.

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.[5]

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.[2]

Year Violin Piano Composition
1951 X For Belgian composers
1952 X For Belgian composers
1953 International
1955 X For Belgian composers
1956 X For Belgian composers
1957 International
1959 X For Belgian composers
1960 X For Belgian composers
1961 International
1963 X For Belgian composers
1964 X For Belgian composers
1965 International
1967 X For Belgian composers
1968 X For Belgian composers
1969 International
1971 X For Belgian composers
1972 X For Belgian composers
1975 X For Belgian composers
1976 X For Belgian composers
1977 International
1978 X For Belgian composers
1980 X For Belgian composers
1982 International
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.[2]

1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996
Piano X X X
Voice/singing X X X
Violin X X
Composition X X X
Composition for Belgian composers X X X X X
1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Piano X X
Voice/singing X X
Violin X X X
Composition X 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.[2]

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.[2]

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Piano X X X
Voice X X X
Violin X X
Composition X X X X

2015 and beyond[edit]

From 2015 there are again four-year cycles, with, for the first time in 2017, a cello competition added after the year with the piano competition.[6] The public composition competitions stopped.[2] The 2020 competition was postponed to 2021.[7]

2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Violin X X
Piano X X
Cello X X
Voice X

Patronage and prizes[edit]

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 laureates of the competition (amounts as awarded in the 2015 violin competition):[8]

  • 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


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.[2]



Year 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
1937 Soviet Union David Oistrakh Austria Ricardo Odnoposoff Soviet Union Elizabeth Gilels Soviet Union Boris Goldstein Soviet Union Marina Kozolupova
1951 Soviet Union Leonid Kogan Soviet Union Mikhail Vayman Hungary Elise Cserfalvi Netherlands Theo Olof Soviet Union Alexei Gorokhov[10]
1955 United States Berl Senofsky Soviet Union Julian Sitkovetsky France Pierre Doukan France Francine Dorfeuille-Boussinot Soviet Union Victor Picaizen
1959 Bolivia Jaime Laredo Soviet Union Albert Markov United States Joseph Silverstein Soviet Union Vladimir Malinin Soviet Union Boris Kouniev
1963 Soviet Union Aleksey Mikhlin [ru] Soviet Union Semyon Snitkovsky United States Arnold Steinhardt Soviet Union Zarius Shikhmurzayeva United States Charles Castleman
1967 Soviet Union Philippe Hirschhorn Bulgaria Stoïka Milanova Soviet Union Gidon Kremer Soviet Union Roman Nodel Japan Hidetaro Suzuki
1971 Israel Miriam Fried Soviet Union Andrey Korsakov Japan Hamao Fujiwara ArgentinaGermany Ana Chumachenco Belgium Edith Volckaert
1976 Soviet Union Mikhaïl Bezverkhny Soviet Union Irina Medvedeva South Korea Dong-Suk Kang Soviet Union Grigori Zhislin Japan Shizuka Ishikawa
1980 Japan Yuzuko Horigome [jp] United States Peter Zazofsky Japan Takashi Shimizu Japan Ruriko Tsukahara Romania Mihaela Martin
1985 Taiwan Hu Nai-yuan South Korea Ik-hwan Bae Guatemala Henry Raudales China Hu Kun South Korea Mi Kyung Lee
1989 Soviet Union Vadim Repin Japan Akiko Suwanai Soviet Union Evgeny Bushkov Israel Erez Ofer Germany Ulrike-Anima Mathé
1993 Japan Yayoi Toda Romania Liviu Prunaru Taiwan Keng-Yuen Tseng [zh] Canada Martin Beaver Russia Natalia Prischepenko
1997 Denmark Nikolaj Znaider Germany Albrecht Breuninger Hungary Kristóf Baráti United Kingdom Andrew Haveron Japan Natsumi Tamai
2001 Latvia Baiba Skride Singapore Kam Ning Hungary Barnabás Kelemen Russia Alina Pogostkin China Feng Ning
2005 Armenia Sergey Khachatryan Belgium Yossif Ivanov [fr] Germany Sophia Jaffé Japan Saeka Matsuyama United States Mikhail Ovrutsky
2009 Australia Ray Chen Belgium Lorenzo Gatto Moldova Ilian Gârnet South Korea Suyoen Kim Russia Nikita Borisoglebsky
2012 Russia Andrey Baranov Japan Tatsuki Narita South Korea Hyun Su Shin United States Esther Yoo Taiwan Tseng Yu-Chien
2015[8] South Korea Lim Ji-young Ukraine Oleksii Semenenko United States William Hagen Germany Tobias Feldmann United StatesNetherlands Stephen Waarts
2019 United States Stella Chen United StatesCanada Timothy Chooi United States Stephen Kim United StatesCanada Shannon Lee Hungary Júlia Pusker


Year 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
1938 Soviet Union Emil Gilels United Kingdom Mary Johnstone (Moura Lympany) Soviet Union Jakov Flier United Kingdom Lance Dossor Uruguay Nibya Mariño Bellini
1952 United States Leon Fleisher Switzerland Karl Engel Italy Maria Tipo Belgium Frans Brouw Australia Laurence Davis
1956 Soviet Union Vladimir Ashkenazy United States John Browning Poland Andrzej Czajkowski France Cécile Ousset Soviet Union Lazar Berman
1960 United States Malcolm Frager Canada Ronald Turini United States Lee Luvisi Soviet Union Alice Mitchenko Hungary Gábor Gabos
1964 Soviet Union Evgeny Mogilevsky Soviet Union Nikolai Petrov Belgium Jean-Claude Vanden Eynden United States Anton Kuerti United States Richard Syracuse
1968 Soviet Union Ekaterina Novitskaya Soviet Union Valère Kamychov United States Jeffrey Siegel Soviet Union Semion Kroutchine Belgium André De Groote [nl]
1972 Soviet Union Valery Afanassiev United States Jeffrey Swann United States Joseph Alfidi United States David Lively Soviet Union Svetlana Navasardyan
1975 Soviet Union Mikhaïl Faerman Soviet Union Stanislav Igolinsky Soviet Union Youri Egorov United States Larry Michael Graham Soviet Union Sergueï Iuchkevitch
1978 Lebanon Abdel Rahman El Bacha United States Gregory Allen France Brigitte Engerer United States Alan Weiss Canada Douglas Finch
1983 France Pierre-Alain Volondat [fr] Germany Wolfgang Manz Bulgaria Boyan Vodenitcharov United States Daniel Blumenthal Brazil Eliane Rodrigues [de]
1987 Soviet Union Andrei Nikolsky Japan Akira Wakabayashi Germany Rolf Plagge Belgium Johan Schmidt Japan Ikuyo Nakamichi
1991 France Frank Braley United States Stephen Prutsman United States Brian Ganz South Korea Hae-sun Paik Soviet Union Alexander Melnikov
1995 Germany Markus Groh [fr] Finland Laura Mikkola Italy Giovanni Bellucci United States Yuliya Gorenman South Korea Jong Hwa Park
1999 Ukraine Vitaly Samoshko Russia Alexander Ghindin China Ning An Israel Shai Wosner Italy Roberto Cominati [it]
2003 Germany Severin von Eckardstein China Wen-Yu Shen Unawarded after Dong-Hyek Lim refused it[11] Italy Roberto Giordano Japan Kazumasa Matsumoto
2007 Russia Anna Vinnitskaya Bulgaria Plamena Mangova Switzerland Francesco Piemontesi Russia Ilya Rashkovsky South Korea Lim Hyo-Sun
2010 Russia Denis Kozhukhin Bulgaria Evgeni Bozhanov Netherlands Hannes Minnaar Russia Yury Favorin South Korea Kim Tae-Hyung
2013 Israel Boris Giltburg France Rémi Geniet Poland Mateusz Borowiak Russia Stanislav Khristenko Hong Kong Zhang Zuo
2016 Czech Republic Lukáš Vondráček [cz] United States Henry Kramer United States Alexander Beyer South Korea Chi-Ho Han Croatia Aljosa Jurinic Italy Alberto Ferro
2021 France Jonathan Fournel [fr] Russia Sergei Redkin Japan Keigo Mukawa Japan Tomoki Sakata Russia Vitaly Starikov

Voice / Singing[edit]

Year 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
1988 Poland Aga Winska United States Jeanette Thompson Netherlands Huub Claessens United States Jacob Will Netherlands Yvonne Schiffelers
1992 France Thierry Félix Brazil Reginaldo Pinheiro United States Wendy Hoffman Republic of Ireland Regina Nathan Chile Cristina Gallardo-Domâs
1996 United States Stephen Salters Romania Ana Camelia Ştefănescu United States Eleni Matos Bulgaria Mariana Zvetkova United States Ray Wade
2000 Canada Marie-Nicole Lemieux Romania Marius Brenciu Ukraine Olga Pasichnyk France Pierre-Yves Pruvot Syria Lubana Al Quntar
2004 Poland Iwona Sobotka Canada Hélène Guilmette Belgium Shadi Torbey [fr] Romania Teodora Gheorghiu Moldova Diana Axentii [fr]
2008 Hungary Szabolcs Brickner France Isabelle Druet Poland Bernadetta Grabias Armenia Anna Kasyan Belarus Yury Haradzetski
2011 South Korea Haeran Hong Belgium Thomas Blondelle [nl] Russia Elena Galitskaya France Anaïk Morel Russia Konstantin Shushakov
2014 South Korea Sumi Hwang Belgium Jodie Devos France Sarah Laulan China Yu Shao South Korea Hera Hyesang Park
2018 Germany Samuel Hasselhorn [fr] France Eva Zaïcik China Ao Li Spain Rocío Pérez France Héloïse Mas


Year 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
2017[12] France Victor Julien-Laferrière Japan Yuya Okamoto Colombia Santiago Cañón [es] France Aurélien Pascal Belarus Ivan Karizna
2022[13] South Korea Choi Ha-young [fr][14][15] China Chen Yibai Estonia Marcel Johannes Kits Ukraine Oleksiy Shadrin Serbia Petar Pejcic


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.[16]

Year Category 1st Work
1953 Composition for symphony orchestra Poland Michał Spisak Serenade
1957 Composition for symphony orchestra Italy Orazio Fiume [it] Concerto per orchestra
Composition for chamber orchestra Poland Michał Spisak Concerto giocoso
1961 Composition for symphony orchestra Belgium Albert Delvaux Sinfonia burlesca
Composition for chamber orchestra Italy Giorgio Cambissa [fr] Concerto per ochestra da camera n. 3
1965 Composition for symphony orchestra Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Rudolf Brucci Synfonia lesta
Composition for violin and orchestra Romania Wilhelm Georg Berger Concert
1969 Composition for symphony orchestra Romania Nicolae Beloiu [fr] Symphonie en deux mouvements
Composition for piano and orchestra United States Ray E. Luke [nl] Concerto for piano
1977 Composition for symphony orchestra Japan Hiro Fujikake Rope Crest
Composition for string quartet Japan Akira Nishimura Heterophony
1982 Composition for symphony orchestra United Kingdom John Weeks [fr] Five Litanies for Orchestra
1991 Composition France Tristan-Patrice Challulau Ne la città dolente
1993 Composition Belgium Piet Swerts [nl] Zodiac
1995 Composition United Kingdom John Weeks Requiescat
1997 Composition South Africa Hendrik Hofmeyr Raptus
1999 Composition Finland Uljas Pulkkis [fr] Tears of Ludovico
2001 Composition DenmarkGermany Søren Nils Eichberg Qilaatersorneq
2002 Composition Australia Ian Munro Piano Concerto Dreams
2004 Composition Mexico Javier Torres Maldonado Obscuro Etiamtum Lumine
2006 Composition Spain Miguel Gálvez-Taroncher La luna y la muerte
2008 Composition South Korea Cho Eun-hwa [de] Agens
2009 Composition South Korea Jeon Minje [fr] Target
2011 Composition Japan Kenji Sakai [fr] Concerto pour violon et orchestre
2012 Composition France Michel Petrossian In the wake of Ea pour piano et orchestre

Media coverage and prizes awarded by audiences[edit]

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.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "In 2017 eerste Koningin Elisabethwedstrijd voor cello" in De Standaard, 19 January 2015
  2. ^ a b c d e f g All competitions Archived 6 April 2019 at the Wayback Machine at Queen Elisabeth Competition website
  3. ^ Queen Elisabeth Competition – Brussels Archived 14 August 2018 at the Wayback Machine at the World Federation of International Music Competitions website
  4. ^ a b "1937 and 1938" Archived 7 December 2019 at the Wayback Machine at Queen Elisabeth Competition website
  5. ^ "1951: a new departure" Archived 7 December 2019 at the Wayback Machine at Queen Elisabeth Competition website
  6. ^ CELLO 2017 – Presentation Archived 8 September 2018 at the Wayback Machine at Queen Elisabeth Competition website
  7. ^ The 2020 Piano Competition is postponed to May 2021 at Queen Elisabeth Competition website
  8. ^ a b VIOLIN 2015 – Prizes Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine at Queen Elisabeth Competition website
  9. ^ "List of Laureates of the Queen Elisabeth Competition". concoursreineelisabeth.be. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
  10. ^ Alexei Gorokhov Archived 7 September 2018 at the Wayback Machine at Queen Elisabeth Competition website
  11. ^ "Koreaanse pianist weigert prijs" in De Standaard, 11 June 2003
  12. ^ Victor Julien-Laferrière wins the first cello competition ! Archived 4 September 2017 at the Wayback Machine at Queen Elisabeth Competition website (4 June 2017)
  13. ^ 2022 Queen Elisabeth Competition
  14. ^ Ga-young, Park (6 June 2022). "Cellist Choi Ha-young wins prestigious Queen Elisabeth competition". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 6 June 2022.
  15. ^ "Hayoung Choi wins 2022 Queen Elisabeth Cello Competition". The Strad. 6 June 2022. Retrieved 6 June 2022.
  16. ^ "Compulsory works and composition competitions" Archived 7 December 2019 at the Wayback Machine at Queen Elisabeth Competition website
  17. ^ "Media" Archived 7 December 2019 at the Wayback Machine at Queen Elisabeth Competition website

External links[edit]