“In 1958, the gangly young Texan Van Cliburn won the Tchaikovsky competition and was welcomed home with a ticker-tape parade,” writes Anne Midgette in Sunday’s (10/21) Washington Post. “No competition victory has ever been quite so important again…. Competitions … are redefining themselves … less as a gateway than as an essential part of a musician’s training.” Jacques Marquis, president and chief executive of the quadrennial Van Cliburn Competition, says, “ ‘We’re co-producing something like 250 concerts a year.’ … Young Concert Artists and Concert Artists Guild … hold annual competitions for young musicians [and] are lauded for their support of young artists…. The small Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra … in Los Angeles started a competition for performers as a way to spark interesting programming…. The three winners all received … $5,000 and will perform with the orchestra … For many performers … entering competitions has become … something that keeps you performing … whether or not you win. The cellist David Requiro … won … the prestigious Naumburg Competition in 2008. He has a flourishing career…. The actual benefits of competing were less tangible, and more lasting.” Says Requiro, “It reinforced training like an Olympic athlete…. I felt it paid off.”

Posted October 23, 2018

In photo: Van Cliburn performs in the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory, April 1958, during the first International Tchaikovsky Competition, which he won. Photo courtesy Van Cliburn Foundation