From 8 to 10 February 2022, the mdw bore witness to the 22nd edition of the International Competition of the Franz Josef Reinl Foundation. This competition has now been held 12 times at our university, taking place under the artistic direction of former harp professor and long-time department head Adelheid Blowski-Miller until 2015 and since then overseen by her successor, Mirjam Schröder. This year, the Reinl Foundation (represented by its chair Ernst Grossman) and the mdw intensified their cooperative efforts and developed the competition into an internationally visible harp event, thanks not least to a professional live stream. And for the first time, the mdw augmented the usual jury of three (chosen by the Reinl Foundation) by two members of its own: Thomas Kreuzberger and Vice Rector Johannes Meissl.

It was the desire of Hilde Reinl, in establishing her foundation, that a competition be held regularly in order to support young harpists and composers. She did so in honour of not only her prematurely deceased son, the harpist Hermann Ertl, but also the composer Franz Josef Ertl, to whom she was married and who passed away in 1977.

This harp competition is open to students from all around the world up to a maximum age of 25. Its programme, accordingly geared to artists who are still studying, consists of two rounds. One of the required pieces had to be chosen from a list of works tied to Vienna: in the competition’s first round, competitors could therefore play one of four different waltzes. A further required work, composed by Ami Maayani, served to memorialise this Israeli composer (who passed away in 2019) as well as his sister, harpist Ruth Maayani (who passed away in 2021). Both of them did great things for the harp in Israel as well as for the international harp repertoire.

Isla Biffin © Stephan Polzer

22 young artists between the ages of 17 and 25 registered this year and introduce themselves to the public in Vienna. They came from Austria, Germany, France, Switzerland, and Poland, as well as from as far off as Mexico and Australia—though the participants from the latter two nations currently reside in Austria. Unfortunately, the prospective competition participants from Russia and the United Kingdom were unable to travel here due to COVID-19. But thanks to special arrangements, daily COVID tests, and the absence of a live audience, the 22nd Reinl Harp Competition did end up being a truly special event. After all, it is indeed sometimes possible to turn necessity into a virtue: the successful mdw live stream garnered this competition the attention of viewers all over the world.

The jury, which consisted of Helga Storck (Munich, Salzburg, Katowice), Imogen Barford (London), and Fabrice Pierre (Lyon) as well as the mdw’s Thomas Kreuzberger and Johannes Meissl, selected five finalists from the overall field of 19 participants and awarded the Reinl Foundation’s three prizes as well as two prizes sponsored by the Lions Club Wienerwald West at the initiative of Thomas Kreuzberger.

This led to all of the finalists receiving awards. 1st prize: Isla Biffin; 2nd prize: Julia Grünbaum; 3rd prize: Norea Nettekoven. Lions Club prizes: Charlotte Michels and Lilly Minkov. The jury expressed praise for the high level of all performances.

The concluding prizewinners’ concert is available via the mdwMediathek, and we encourage you to get an impression of the competitors’ highly professional performances!

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