With the 7th International Joseph Haydn Chamber Music Competition just around the corner, we take a look into the rear-view mirror and ask previous participants what significance the competition has had for them.

Quatuor Zaïde
Quatuor Zaïde ©Marco Borggreve

How can young musicians’ artistic success be measured and evaluated? Who determines the criteria? When is a young artist—or a young musician working with ambition and dedication on him or herself, or a promising ensemble—successful?

Lots of different aspects play a role here: personal notions, instructors’ expectations, and societal demands ranging from one’s peer group to the market itself. Over the past few decades, music competitions have shown themselves to be a (more or less suitable) means of defining artistic success. And international competitions, depending on their standards and the integrity of their decision-making processes, doubtless play an important role in building sustainable professional careers for outstanding young musicians.

Leading up to the 7th International Joseph Haydn Chamber Music Competition, which will once again see a selection of the best young piano trios and string quartets from all over the world converge on Vienna between 20 February and 2 March 2017, it’s revealing to hear what the winning ensembles of past editions think about the significance of their success. So in the following, the ensembles’ impressive career milestones are coupled with their statements on the competition.

For these ensembles, success at the Haydn Competition quite obviously was and still is an important building block for sustainable artistic progress—which is also the most exciting kind of success for the Haydn Competition and for the Joseph Haydn Department of Chamber Music, Early Music, and Contemporary Music itself.

Meta4 (Finland) 1st prize, 2007

1st prize, Shostakovich Competition (Moscow), Echo-Klassik Award (2010) for a Haydn string quartet CD, several further award-winning CDs, BBC New Generation Artist (2008–2010), Quartet in Residence at the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival (Finland), worldwide concert engagements.
“It’s difficult to say which concerts and opportunities arose as direct results of our success in the competition. But for a Nordic group like ours, coming from a musical culture where string quartets are perhaps not considered to be as mainstream a genre as they are in Central Europe, being laureates of a competition that not only bears Haydn’s name but is also located in one of the most important cities in terms of the history of the string quartet playing surely lends us an entirely different level of credibility when we move about and perform among the ‘big fish’ and the prestigious concert halls that they frequent.”

Quatuor Zaïde (France) 1st prize, 2012

Winners of the 2011 Beijing International Quartet Competition, the Prix de la Presse at the 2010 Concours International Bordeaux, and the 1st prize at the Charles Hennen International Competition in Heerlen (Netherlands), “Rising Stars” of ECHO (European Concert Hall Organisation) 2015/16, CD recordings, worldwide concert engagements.
“Winning first prize at the Haydn Competition deepened our love for the classical repertoire and especially for Haydn. Ever since, all of our season programmes have included at least one quartet by Haydn—and we recently released our second album, which features Haydn’s Opus 50 quartets. After the Haydn competition, we decided to focus only on the music that we want to play… The honour was less the prize itself than the fact that we had been heard, understood, and approved of by a jury composed of musicians whom we admire. They gave us the impulse to go on pursuing our dreams.”

Minetti Quartett (Austria) 2nd prize, 2007

Minetti Quartett
Minetti Quartett ©Oliver Jiszda

2008/09 “Rising Stars” of ECHO, prizewinners at competitions in Florence and Graz as well as at Gradus ad Parnassum, receipt of a scholarship from the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Arts, and Culture, worldwide concert engagements, and awards including the Ö1 Pasticcio Prize and “CD of the Day” as well as “CD of the Week” for CDs on the Hänssler classic and AviMusic labels.

“The Haydn Competition in 2008 led to our first tour of Japan and was the starting point of an intensive study of string quartet literature and a life for chamber music!”

Trio Gaspard (Albania/Greece, England) 1st prize, 2012

1st prize and special prize at the Joseph Joachim Chamber Music Competition Weimar, winners of the 2011 International Chamber Music Competition in Illzach (France). Numerous European engagements.
“Winning first prize at a competition dedicated to Joseph Haydn was a real joy and honour, because this composer is extremely close to our hearts. Apart from its artistic benefits, this competition was also instrumental in helping propel our career as a young ensemble. The buzz and publicity surrounding the competition helped draw the attention of audiences, concert organisers, and managers from all around Europe.”

Pacific Quartet Vienna (Japan, Hungary, Taiwan, Switzerland) 1st prize, 2015

Concert in the series Young Musicians at the Vienna Musikverein, tour for “Jeunesses Musicales Austria”, debut CD with Gramola in cooperation with Radio SRF2, concert at the 29th Haydn Festival Eisenstadt, agency contract.
“The experiences that we were able to gather at the Haydn Competition helped us mature as a quartet: deeper exploration of Viennese Classicism and the 2nd Viennese School, strategies for mental preparation, and an enormous development of our ‘team spirit’. At the same time, our success at the Haydn Competition opened up various doors, like to our new management and to the cooperating partners (Swiss Radio SRF 2 and Gramola) on our debut CD, and it also made possible important performances at renowned concert venues.”

Abel Quartet (South Korea) 1st prize, 2015

2nd prize and special prize at the 11th Concours international de Lyon in 2015, “Rising Stars” of ECHO in 2016 (nominated by Kumho Art Hall in Korea). Invitations to music festivals including Ticino Musica, the OWON Festival (France), the Casalmaggiore Festival (Italy), and the Tongyoung International Music Festival and Seoul Spring Chamber Music Festival (Korea).
“For us, the Haydn Competition was that door known as ‘a chance’, a wonderful springboard for the beginning of our career.”

Stefan Zweig Trio (Bulgaria, Japan, France) 1st prize, 2015

“Winning 1st prize at the Haydn Competition was one of the happiest and most important events for our trio. It opened up many doors for us and helped us greatly on our way to new and exciting concert opportunities.”

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