Van Cliburn International Piano Competition

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The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition was first held in 1962 in Fort Worth, Texas and hosted by the Van Cliburn Foundation. It was created by Fort Worth area piano teachers in honor of Van Cliburn, who had won the first International Tchaikovsky Competition four years earlier with Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto and Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3.

The Van Cliburn Competition is held every four years (the year after the United States presidential elections; thus, the next competitions will be held in 2017, 2021 and so forth). The winners and runners-up receive substantial cash prizes, plus concert tours at world-famous venues where they perform pieces of their choice. Previously held at Texas Christian University, the competition has been held at the Bass Performance Hall since 2001.

Top prize winners[edit]

The competition consists up to three full recital programs, new work performance, chamber music, and two concertos for each competitor.

Winners of the top prize awarded in the given year (linking to the article about the given competition):

14 2013 Vadym Kholodenko
13 2009 Nobuyuki Tsujii and Haochen Zhang (tie)
12 2005 Alexander Kobrin
11 2001 Stanislav Ioudenitch and Olga Kern (tie)
10 1997 Jon Nakamatsu
9 1993 Simone Pedroni
8 1989 Alexei Sultanov
7 1985 José Feghali
6 1981 Andre-Michel Schub
5 1977 Steven De Groote
4 1973 Vladimir Viardo
3 1969 Cristina Ortiz
2 1966 Radu Lupu
1 1962 Ralph Votapek


One newspaper columnist, Benjamin Ivry, has written in the Wall Street Journal that the Van Cliburn competition was a well-run piano competition when it started in 1962. In 1966 it selected the talented Radu Lupu as gold medal winner. Since then, however, the jury in the competition "has more often resulted in odd picks", including Olga Kern and Alexander Kobrin, who respectively won in 2001 and 2005. Ivry contends that the recent picks chosen in 2009, gold medalists Haochen Zhang and Nobuyuki Tsujii, ignored Di Wu, "the most musically mature and sensitive pianist competing in the finals". Yeol Eum Son took second prize and the jury did not award a third place contestant. Ivry criticized that requiring every competitor in the 2009 competition to play chamber music with the "brash" and "imprecise" Takács Quartet from Hungary did "precious few favors" for quintet listeners. Since no third prize was awarded in the 2009 competition, an additional contestant was not given opportunity to make a CD recording sponsored by the competition. Finally, Ivry questions whether Van Cliburn himself, then 74, would have been able to win under the current rules and standards for selecting a winner.[1]

The idea of competitions in general was challenged by Nina Tichman, pianist and professor at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz in Cologne. She argued that the competition format needed to be changed if the talent presented was to be properly assessed. "It could be possible to get worldwide interest in, for example, a showcase format. I imagine that, instead of a jury of illustrious teachers, who may or may not have a vested interest in seeing a certain current or former student win, why not invite or include a large pool of conductors, concert presenters, managers, record producers and have a festival in which the artists chosen to participate present themselves in recital and with orchestra in the course of a week or two and are chosen by the above panel members to appear in their series, with their orchestras, on their labels."[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ivry, Benjamin (June 10, 2009). "What Was the Jury Thinking?". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 09-03-2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  2. ^ The Cliburn: here’s who should have won… and how. (2013-06-10). Retrieved on 2013-08-02.


Horowitz, Joseph (September 1990). The Ivory Trade: Music and the Business of Music at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition (1 ed.). Summit Books. 

External links[edit]