Queen Elisabeth Competition

  (Redirected from Queen Elisabeth Music Competition)

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.

Official logo, English version.

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 beyondEdit

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 prizesEdit

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


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

Voice / SingingEdit

Year 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
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 [fr]   Teodora Gheorghiu   Diana Axentii [fr]
2008   Szabolcs Brickner   Isabelle Druet   Bernadetta Grabias   Anna Kasyan   Yury Haradzetski
2011   Haeran Hong   Thomas Blondelle [nl]   Elena Galitskaya   Anaïk Morel   Konstantin Shushakov
2014   Sumi Hwang   Jodie Devos   Sarah Laulan   Yu Shao   Hera Hyesang Park
2018   Samuel Hasselhorn [fr]   Eva Zaïcik   Ao Li   Rocío Pérez   Héloïse Mas


Year 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
2017[12]   Victor Julien-Laferrière   Yuya Okamoto   Santiago Cañón [es]   Aurélien Pascal   Ivan Karizna
2022[13]   Choi Ha-young [fr][14][15]   Chen Yibai   Marcel Johannes Kits   Oleksiy Shadrin   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   Michał Spisak Serenade
1957 Composition for symphony orchestra   Orazio Fiume [it] 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 [fr] 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 [fr] Symphonie en deux mouvements
Composition for piano and orchestra   Ray E. Luke [nl] 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 [fr] Five Litanies for Orchestra
1991 Composition   Tristan-Patrice Challulau Ne la città dolente
1993 Composition   Piet Swerts [nl] Zodiac
1995 Composition   John Weeks Requiescat
1997 Composition   Hendrik Hofmeyr Raptus
1999 Composition   Uljas Pulkkis [fr] 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
2008 Composition   Cho Eun-hwa [de] Agens
2009 Composition   Jeon Minje [fr] Target
2011 Composition   Kenji Sakai [fr] Concerto pour violon et orchestre
2012 Composition   Michel Petrossian In the wake of Ea pour piano et orchestre

Media coverage and prizes awarded by audiencesEdit

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 alsoEdit


  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 linksEdit