On classical music competitions

Kwok, Glen and Dromey, Christopher ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3275-4777 (2018) On classical music competitions. In: The Classical Music Industry. Dromey, Christopher ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3275-4777 and Haferkorn, Julia ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1468-9868, eds. Routledge Research in Creative and Cultural Industries Management . Routledge, Abingdon, Oxon, pp. 67-76. ISBN 9781138203693, e-ISBN 9781315471099, pbk-ISBN 9780367512262. [Book Section] (doi:10.4324/9781315471099-6)


Competitions have long been a mainstay for classical musicians of all ages and proficiencies: emerging and established, amateur and professional, solo and ensemble. By enabling musicians to judge their level of performance against fellow performers on local, regional, national, or international stages, competitions represent more than the act of competing alone: they are also a vital means for classical musicians to promote themselves, to gain recognition, and, potentially, to launch their careers. Yet, as competitions have multiplied and diversified, particularly over the last half-century, questions surrounding their viability and legitimacy have gradually grown louder. The global financial crisis has jeopardised economic support for the arts and caused several competitions to close, sometimes after decades of operation, for example Paris’s quadrennial Rostropovich Cello Competition (1977–2009). Nevertheless, it is encouraging that most established competitions continue and, as we shall see, that new competitions are continuing to appear.

This chapter charts the mechanisms and dynamics of how classical music competitions operate. In so doing, it also addresses certain fundamental and topical questions that aspiring musicians, professionals working in the competition world, and critics of competitions will surely recognise given their relevance to musical life today: How do competitions vary? What purpose are they intended to serve? What are their benefits and, indeed, their drawbacks? The chapter falls into four related sections: a brief historical overview of competitive music-making, providing context for how and why classical music competitions proliferated in the post-war era; a more substantial chronicle of today’s scene, with a practical focus on different types of competitions in which musicians of international standing compete today; and a two-part appraisal of competitions’ efforts to innovate, examined in light of the complex, sometimes controversial issues, such as bias and musical judgement, these events provoke.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Hardback: Published June 5, 2018
Paperback: Published May 28, 2020
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts > Performing Arts > Music group
Item ID: 24124
Notes on copyright: This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in The Classical Music Industry on 05/06/2018, available online: http://www.routledge.com/9781138203693
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Dr Chris Dromey
Date Deposited: 13 Apr 2018 14:25
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2020 10:49
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/24124

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