What kinds of works written for the piano are well suited to helping young players discover the world of contemporary music? What are the technical boundaries within which one can compose innovative piano pieces of pedagogical value that are realisable in lessons and still embody convincing compositions in their own right?

Since the beginning of the 20th century, at the latest, answering these and a slew of other relevant questions has posed a recurrent challenge to piano teachers who consider it important to teach in a way that does justice to their own times.

Precisely these questions are the focus of the Mauricio Kagel Composition Competition, which the mdw’s Ludwig van Beethoven Department of Piano in Music Education has been putting on for a decade now and whose fifth edition is slated to take place this year. Its naming had to do with another Ludwig van Beethoven Department event series: in 1995, Mauricio Kagel was a guest at the 3rd Vienna Days of Contemporary Piano Music. A renewed visit by Kagel had been planned but was precluded by his death in 2008. It was therefore decided to name the thematically related competition in this important composer’s memory.

Mauricio Kagel © Universal Edition

The competition’s purpose is to encourage composers to take on the challenge of creating works for the piano in a contemporary musical idiom that have didactic potential and can be played by children or adolescents. Such works should employ the piano with all of its possibilities in the context of contemporary music’s diversity. The submitted works, which should be no shorter than 6 minutes and no longer than 15, need to be notated in a clearly comprehensible manner.

With respect to its conduct, this competition stands out for its transparency and its mode of decision-making, which differs starkly from that of other composing competitions: in the interest of ensuring the highest possible degree of fairness, even the jury only learns the identities of the prizewinners at the very end of the competition. During the final round, the jurors—all of them internationally renowned composers—engage in open discussion of the works from the field of submissions that they have selected for nomination.

Over the course of the previous four competitions, nearly 800 works from over 60 countries on all the world’s continents have been submitted. The prize-winning works from previous years have been published by Universal Edition in its volumes K2010, K2013, K2016, and K2019. And for the Mauricio Kagel Composition Competition’s upcoming fifth edition, Universal has once again agreed to publish the winning works.

The Mauricio Kagel Composition Competition is among those events that have been doing more and more justice to the current trend towards digitisation on various levels. The competition’s final rounds have been streamed live ever since its second edition in 2013. What’s more, the audio recordings of the prize-winning works produced following the competition have been put out as digital releases since the third edition in 2016 (mediathek.mdw.ac.at/K2016 and mediathek.mdw.ac.at/K2019).

Due in no small measure to the experiences of the past year, the competition’s organisers have now decided to expand upon the existing digital components: submissions to the upcoming competition will no longer be made by postal mail, as in the past, but via a digital submission portal. And to ensure broad awareness of the call for entries, the associated publicity efforts now feature increased use of a wide range of social media channels.

The jurors will make their personal selections out of the entire field of works that arrive by 3 September 2021. The competitions thus nominated for the final round will then be performed by students of the Ludwig Van Beethoven Department at the mdw’s Fanny Hensel-Saal between 1 and 4 February 2022. It goes without saying that the presentations and jury discussions will once again be streamed live, this time exclusively in English in view of the stream’s international audience.

The jury of the 5th Mauricio Kagel Composition Competition once again features prominent names: we look forward to greeting Michael Jarrell, Elena Mendoza, Isabel Mundry, Miroslav Srnka, and Marco Stroppa.

Call for Compositions!
5th Mauricio Kagel Composition Competition
Open to composers under age 40
Submission deadline: 3 September 2021
Final Round: 1–4 February 2022
For more information visit: mauricio-kagel-kompositionswettbewerb.com
Organisational team: Johannes Marian, Clara Murnig, Albert Sassmann

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