The Competition

The International Johannes Brahms Competition at Pörtschach is now in its twenty-fifth year. It is scheduled from September 1st until September 9th and open for the categories Piano, Violin, Cello and Chamber Music.

There will be finals with orchestra for Piano, Violin and Cello.

The winners of the competition have the chance to win additional prizes:

  • Invitation to play a concert at the Brahms Saal at the Musikverein in Vienna in Spring 2019
  • Invitation to play a concert with the Slovakia Sinfonietta in Zilina, Slovakia.
  • Invitation to play a concert at the Suntory Hall in Tokyo.

Pianists,string players, singers and chamber musicians from any country who have reached international competition standard are welcome.

All performances shall be open to the public. Furthermore, the jury assessment shall be made public and each adjucator shall submit his evaluation with his name immediately after each competitor’s performance, showing the points awarded on a score-sign. Points from 0-6, to one decimal, shall be awarded separately for technical mastery of the instrument and for artistic expression, and then be added together. The candidates can see the score immediately after their performance.

Note: Without participating in the final concert no prize can be awarded!

About the Competition

The summer of 2018 sees the 25th anniversary of the International Johannes Brahms Competition in Pörtschach. The reputation of our music competition is built on the high standard of musicians – pianists; violin, viola and cello players; chamber musicians and singers¹ – we attract.

Each year, more than 400 musicians from over 40 nations compete. We attract entrants from most European countries, from Finland in the north to Greece in the south. A truly international feel is provided by competitors from Australia, China, South Africa, Japan and the USA. Just under a tenth of those who register come from Austria.

So what makes our Brahms competition so appealing to musicians the world over? A difference between the Pörtschach event and those elsewhere is the transparency in the marking. Rather than using a committee that is out of sight, our jurors each have to give their marks immediately after the performance and in full view of the audience. This helps the understanding of both competitor and spectator, and also eliminates the unnecessary wait for the results that mars other events. Furthermore, it offers the chance for the audience to compare their judgments with the artistic and technical merit scores announced.

Our format may strike you as unusual, but this way of marking has shown itself to be much appreciated by our entrants, who see that each juror cannot influence his or her colleagues. The musicians are entitled to discuss their marks with individual jurors, should they wish to.

The competition in each discipline comprises three rounds. In the first round musicians must perform pieces from a given list. The emphasis is on demonstrating a mastery of the instrument in question. As this stage serves to reduce the field of candidates to a manageable number the points from round one are not carried forward, thus everyone begins the second round on an equal footing. It is here that power of expression, personal style and artistry come to the fore. Since the scores for the second round and third round are added, victory goes to the candidate who consistently performs very well, rather than a musician who produces an isolated display of excellence.

In my experience the public get caught up in the drama of the Pörtschach Brahms Competition, they choose their favourites and ride the rollercoaster of emotions with them. Where else can you watch such high-calibre musicians in exciting competition for free?

Have a good time,

Mag. Waltraud Arnold
President, Johannes Brahms Society Pörtschach

¹ The Voice and Viola competitions are not on offer in 2018.