Review: International Robert Schumann Competition for pianists and singers 2016

The vivid memory of Robert Schumann and his music simply belongs to the city of Zwickau: This is reflected by the Robert Schumann House as museum, archive, research centre and event venue, the Robert Schumann monument and the city walk dedicated to his memory, the Schumann Festival as well as the Robert Schumann Conservatory and the grammar school named after Schumann’s wife Clara Wieck.

 The International Robert Schumann Competition for pianists and singers, only taking place every four years, plays a special role. The list of award winners includes names enjoying international reputation such as the pianists Eliso Virsaladze, Dezsö Ránki, Pavel Egorov, Emma Tachmizjan, Yves Henry or Eric Le Sage and singers such as Siegfried Lorenz, Mitsuko Shirai, Lászlo Polgár, Sergej Lejferkus, Edith Wiens, Matthias Görne, Barbara Hölzl or Annette Dasch and Mauro Peter.

The 17th edition of this musical event required around one and a half years of preparation. The Competition in 2016 was an anniversary as well: The competition was initiated 60 years ago in 1956, at that time still in Berlin.

Accordingly the organizers felt a mounting tension as the event approached: How many young artists would actually arrive? Would the competition be able to reach the high level of the preceding years? Would the singers and pianists be able to thrill the audience with their enthusiasm?

However, our hopeful expectations were not only met, but exceeded! The competition set a new record with 226 young artists from 39 countries including the song accompanists. To our great delight participants from all five continents entered the first competition round, among them for the first time competitors from Indonesia, Iceland, New Zealand and South Africa. Many of them impressively demonstrated their skills and enchanted the audience which, in parts, travelled quite far to listen to these young talents. Finally, on June 19, the competent jury honoured young artists who did not only convince our experts but who are and will be worthy award winners. Again the competition could prove its internationality — never before had the competition had laureates from Portugal, China and Israel nor had a singer from France been awarded a prize.

Though the greatest benefit was another one: The friendly atmosphere during those 11 days. At a time when our world is shaken by wars, conflicts and crises this — sadly enough — cannot be taken for granted.

We would like to thank all those people who supported the International Robert Schumann Competition 2016 in the limelight and behind the scenes. A special thank you to all jury members and assistants spending many hours and days of concentrated and competent work. Sincere thanks to the staff of the city administration and the competition organizer Dr. Thomas Synofzik as well as the Robert Schumann Society. Besides we once more had a lot of private hosts accommodating competitors in their own homes. Without sponsors and supporters this competition would not stand a chance — therefore thanks to Kulturraum Vogtland-Zwickau, Sparkasse Zwickau, EnviaM, the cultural foundation of the Free State of Saxony and the MDR broadcasting company.

But our biggest thanks goes to all competitors: Thank you so much for all the wonderful music you brought to us and for the pleasant atmosphere!

The 17th edition of the International Robert Schumann Competition for pianists and singers was a great event and a unique musical experience —a huge party for Schumann!

We are already looking forward to edition no. 18 taking place in the Robert Schumann City of Zwickau in 2020.