The Queen Elisabeth Competition: an international springboard for young musicians


Every year in May, the Queen Elisabeth Competition thrills Belgium and the world of music. There are four divisions, violin, piano, singing, and cello, and each division is held in turn. This year, it's the piano's turn. 

Created in 1937 by Queen Elisabeth, wife of King Albert I and a great music lover, at the suggestion of the Belgian violin virtuoso Eugène Ysaÿe (who died in 1931) and the Queen's violin teacher, this internationally renowned event has continued to grow ever since.

Originally called the Ysaÿe Competition, its primary objective is to offer young musicians the opportunity to develop their careers at an international level. The competition was interrupted during the war and resumed in 1951 under its present name of the Queen Elisabeth International Competition. This event has several original features, the first of which is that the members of the jury, composed of internationally renowned musical personalities, do not discuss together; the results are announced on the basis of confidential notes. This is followed by the study of an unpublished work during a week-long retreat for the candidates at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in Waterloo.

The public rounds of the competition are held in Brussels every year in May. The 2021 edition of the competition had to adapt to the constraints imposed by the pandemic. There were fewer candidates in the semi-final and final, with no audience, but a stronger media presence with video streaming from the first round.