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Guide to the Besançon International Competition for Young Conductors

57th Besançon International Competition for Young Conductors

Established in 1951 by the Besançon Music Festival, the Besançon Competition soon became the most prestigious event of its kind. It took place every year until 1992, and thereafter every two years.

The Besançon Competition is open to all artists under 35 who wish to become professional conductors, whatever their training or their experience ; no previous diploma is required. It is the only Competition where candidates are not selected on their documentation (neither biography nor videos) but during live auditions. The competition opens 270 places per edition: applications close when the limit is reached.

For the preliminary rounds candidates have to perform during live auditions behind closed doors which take place on three continents: Pékin, Montréal, Berlin, Besançon and Paris. Each candidate is required to conduct symphonic works performed by two pianists on two pianos. They only have a few minutes to convince the two jury members.

After the preliminaries only twenty candidates (maximum) will be entered into the orchestra rounds. All of the rounds with orchestra are open to the public and all works are imposed. The candidates will either be asked to conduct entire pieces or excerpts, or to rehearse the artists under their musical direction, according to their interpretation or at the jury’s request.

With a repertoire which spans classical, Romantic, 20th century, and contemporary music, as well as oratorio, oper, the Besançon Conducting Competition is the most complete competition in the world.

Attending the competition

The preliminary rounds (April – May) will be held behind closed doors or restricted to a small audience (schoolchildren, students, partners, etc). In September, all of the rounds with orchestra will be open to the public (except the dress rehearsal for the Final).

Accommodation of candidates & Prizes

The Competition proposes to the candidates to be accommodated free of charge with a host family (bed and breakfast) in Besançon from 13 to 19 September 2021. 

The Competition will contribute a fixed amount to the candidates’ travel costs, from their lodging location:

  • From 200 to 500 km round trip: 100 €
  • From 501 to 1500 km round trip: 200 €
  • More than 1501 km round trip: 300 €

The Grand Prix is endowed with: 

  • 12 000 €
  • A three-month period of artistic guidance (advice and coaching)
  • Hires with partner orchestras

The Grand Prix is awarded by the jury, which reserves the right not to award it. It cannot be shared. 
The jury also has the possibility to award a “special mention”, endowed with 3 000 €.

For more information visit: 57th Besançon International Competition for Young Conductors

Fact file
SectionsConductor
Deadline25 Jan - 10 Feb 2021
Finals13 - 18 Sep 2021
WhereBesançon, France
Age groupsBorn between 1986 and 2003
Discover the competition
Jury

Paul Daniel (GB), Jury Chairman, Conductor; 
Jacques Mercier (FR), Conductor (Preselections); 
Gillian Moore (GB), Director of Musical Institution; 
Camille Pépin (FR), Composer; 
Dima Slobodeniouk (FI/RU), Conductor; 
Jean François Verdier (FR), Conductor; 
Katy Woolley (GB), Orch. musician;
Xian Zhang (CN / US), Conductor; 
Catherine Larsen-Maguire (GB), Conductor (Preselections only)