With the final round of the 5th Mauricio Kagel Composition Competition, held from 1 to 4 February 2022, the Ludwig van Beethoven Department of Piano in Music Education manifested a strong signal of the mdw’s uninterrupted international presence despite the ongoing pandemic.

Every three years since 2010, this competition has invited composers from all over the world to send in new pieces that employ a contemporary musical language but can still be played by children and/or adolescents. From the entire field of submissions, which remain anonymous throughout the selection process, the competition jury—consisting of prominent composers—chooses its favourites, which the final round then sees played by mdw students and discussed publicly by the jurors. The complete transparency of its decision-making process, which is quite unusual among competitions of this type, is one of the main features that sets the Mauricio Kagel Composition Competition apart.

This year’s edition attracted a total of 160 submissions from 46 countries ranging across all the world’s continents, and the jury ended up selecting 16 of them to be played in the final round. Approximately one fifth of these piano pieces were composed by women. This year’s jury consisted of Michael Jarrell, Elena Mendoza, Isabel Mundry, Miroslav Srnka, and Marco Stroppa. Mendoza, who had taken part in the preliminary selection with all of her fellow jury members, was unfortunately unable to make the final round. Jarrell, Srnka, Stroppa, and jury discussion moderator Johannes Marian were personally present in the hall, while Isabel Mundry always participated virtually.

Michael Jarrell, Marco Stroppa, Miroslav Srnka & Johannes Marian © Clara Murnig

Due to the necessary safety precautions, the entire final round had to take place without an audience. This limitation, however, was compensated for with a live stream realised to a highly professional standard by the experts of the mdw’s AV Centre. They set up the Fanny Hensel-Saal like a studio, with three cameras filming simultaneously in order to make this fascinating event accessible worldwide. A clear decision was made following an extended round of thought-provoking discussion. The 1st prize, worth € 6,000, went to Patrick Thomas Schäfer (Germany) for his Creatures. The 2nd prize (€ 4,000) went to Adrian Mocanu (Ukraine) for La piccola fiammiferaia, and two 3rd prizes worth € 1,500 each went to Óscar Prados (Spain) for Interludes and to Biin Jin (South Korea) for Pendule. Furthermore, recommendations were conferred upon In all directions (Karlo Margetić, New Zealand), Los días antes del Tiempo II (Luis Alberto Tenaglia, Argentina), Organum (Marc Vogler, Germany), and Qualia (In-Gi Kim, South Korea).

All of these recognised works are now to be recorded by students of the Ludwig van Beethoven Department and made available via the mdwMediathek as a digital release. The prizewinning pieces, for their part, will once again be published in cooperation with Universal Edition, with a purely digital format having been chosen for their distribution: accordingly, this next volume in the competition’s ongoing series will appear on “UE now” platform as K2022.

In order to do justice to the intense international interest this year, the jury’s conducted its discussions entirely in English for the first time and will continue to do so in the future. Furthermore, the competition is also now present on the social media platforms Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


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