The mdw great talent award powered by Christian Zeller returned this year to once again put outstanding mdw talents onstage. At the final round on 12 May 2022, bassoonist Johanna Bilgeri won the 1st prize while violinist Paul Kropfitsch and mezzo-soprano Helene Feldbauer claimed 2nd prizes ex aequo. This configuration of winners was made possible by a generous increase to the prize money by sponsor Christian Zeller in connection with the decision by this competition’s distinguished jury, which was chaired by Angelika Möser. Asked as to her expectations in the wake of this win, the 21-year-old Vorarlberg native stated, “Having won this prize, I’m aiming to surpass myself and use my abilities to evoke joy in others.” If the final round was any indication, though, she’s in fact already doing just that—as the enthusiasm and applause following her performance in the packed Joseph Haydn-Saal most impressively demonstrated.

© Stephan Polzer

Who is this highly gifted musician?

Johanna Bilgeri was born in Hittisau, Vorarlberg in 2001 and has been studying bassoon (performance) with Richard Galler at the mdw since the autumn of 2019. She’s already won numerous first and special prizes as a soloist and chamber musician at Austrian and international competitions, including several national-level wins at Prima la Musica, victory in the soloists’ competition at the Vorarlberg State Conservatory, and a prize at the Musica Juventutis competition.

Bilgeri has participated in master classes given by Dag Jensen and Simon van Holen. She has gathered orchestral experience with the Quarta 4 Länder Jugendphilharmonie, the Symphony Orchestra Vorarlberg, and the Liechtenstein Symphony Orchestra as well as with the Vienna Youth Orchestra. Johanna Bilgeri has also been heard on numerous occasions already as a chamber musician. Her work with Ensemble Esperanza has seen her perform in the Chamber Music Hall of the Elbphilharmonie, and with her Trio Mélange (which performs in a classic reed trio formation), she’s been performing regularly in Austria and abroad—including a guest appearance at the 2019 Lockenhaus Chamber Music Festival.

This young musician has made solo appearances with the Symphony Orchestra of the Vorarlberg State Conservatory, in the concert Talente im Funkhaus (broadcast live by ORF), and in Sterne von Morgen, a concert series that presents selected international young musicians. Johanna is a current scholarship recipient of the Anny Felbermayer Fund for the advancement of talented mdw students. And as a winner of the competition Wiener Symphoniker-Talent, she gave her soloistic debut with the Wiener Symphoniker in June 2021 under the baton of Maestro Andrés Orozco-Estrada.

What does this bassoonist expect from life as a musician? Her answer is a self-confident one: “I want most of all to stay passionate about it and always attempt to give my best.”

Key Thoughts

A strength:


A weakness:


My pre-performance ritual:

I don’t really have any rituals for before I perform; instead, I tried to do everything as I normally would and avoid anything new or unusual. I hugely enjoy having time to myself. I’ll also often do brief concentration exercises, and I avoid playing any particular passages on my bassoon before performing. I tend to stick to scales, airflow exercises, and the like.

Johanna Bilgeri © Stephan Polzer

Favourite composers:

I enjoy the variety and huge range of music that’s out there, above all when it comes to bassoon pieces but also in terms of orchestral and chamber repertoire.

My most formative musical experience:

This June’s solo concert with the Wiener Symphoniker led by Maestro Andrés Orozco-Estrada.

My most wonderful musical experience:

I’ve had a whole lot of wonderful experiences that I’m now fond of thinking back to. I don’t think I could single out any particular experience as most wonderful, but the most recent one was definitely the concert with the Wiener Symphoniker at the Musikverein with Lorenzo Viotti conducting.

Seashore or mountains?

Definitely mountains, which is where I grew up.

If I hadn’t become a musician, then what?

That’s something I’ve never figured out 😉

Pizza or burgers?


In my colleagues, I value…

…that they can always be relied on, that they accept everyone as they are, and above all that they’re open and honest.

And I have zero understanding…

for the fact that our world is still filled with so much injustice.

Facebook oder Instagram?

Instagram, though I’m generally not all that active there.

Watch the final round at the mdwMediathek.

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