In honour of the competition’s 50th anniversary

Were one to push reality to its limit, one could say that the International Beethoven Piano Competition in Vienna can be traced back to Joseph Haydn. This is not only a result of the well known, historic bonds among Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, but also due to the continuing development of classical composition in Vienna, leading up to the second Viennese school with Schönberg, Berg and Webern.

The generation of teachers after the second world war still adhered to this tradition, including the celebrated professors Josef Dichler and Richard Hauser, the latter of whom studied with Anton Webern who, himself, laid particular emphasis on the analyses of Beethoven’s Sonatas. Beginning in 1950 in the Academy of Music and the Performing Arts, the forerunner of the present University, students were constrained to read the analysis course given by another Webern student, Erwin Ratz, who, like his teacher, considered the Beethoven Sonatas a fundamental resource. It was indeed this same professor who brought out the first editions based exclusively on the original texts, known world-wide as „Urtext“ editions.

Quite naturally, the names Beethoven and Vienna came to be linked together in the founding of a new international piano competition. The idea originated from Richard Hauser who had won second prize in a major Viennese competition for pianists held in the 1930’s, an event which had attracted more than 200 contestants. He was firmly convinced that a city of music like Vienna should be able to organize a major international competition in which young pianists would consecrate their efforts … exclusively … to the works of Beethoven.

On the premise that the compositions of Ludwig van Beethoven constitute a major pillar in the repertoire of a concert pianist, professors Dichler and Hauser drew up a competition program which is still considered unquestionably valid. Accordingly, the rules and regulations of today’s competition are also based upon their original guidelines.

Although the first International Beethoven Piano Competition took place in 1961, the preparation period was begun in 1959, making 2009 the year in which we could celebrate the 50th anniversary of its founding. In recognition of their most significant initiative, and in memory of the two founders, Professors Richard Hauser and Dr. Josef Dichler, we have decided to award a special prize on this occasion named the Hauser-Dichler Anniversary Prize in 2009. Recognized the world over and full of tradition, may the Vienna International Beethoven Piano Competition retain its unmistakable significance well into the 21st century. Ad multos annos!

Heinz Medjimorec (Translation by Gordon Murray)