Hina Maeda (2015 main prize winner) © Wernhild Baars
Hina Maeda (2015 main prize winner)
© Wernhild Baars
Search back through the previous winners of the Hohenlohe International Violin Competition and one name leaps out. In 1995, the youngest of the three age categories (aged 14-years and under) was won by Latvian violinist Baiba Skride, who went on to build a strong international career. She even returned to Hohenlohe in 2007 as a juror. What makes Hohenlohe different from other competitions and why should young players apply?

The 2017 competition, held from late August to early September, is the 17th edition. It is held every two years and takes place at the Kloster Schöntal, a former Cistercian Abbey (founded in 1157), not far from Stuttgart or Heidelberg. It’s a residential competition and entrants are accommodated and catered for exclusively in Bildungshaus Kloster Schöntal.

Artistic director Prof Petru Munteanu is adamant that the competition should prove a pleasurable experience for the talented young participants and that it should also give something back. It aims to unearth exciting young talent, but also encourages the learning of key works in the violin repertoire. There is the opportunity for valuable feedback from respected jury members, plus the chance to participate in their masterclasses. Entrants also have the opportunity to participate in the Concertino Ensemble, which plays without a conductor, boosting listening and ensemble skills alongside their peers. The ensemble can be seen as a "product" of both the competition and the masterclasses.

Dr Harald Unkelbach presents the Förderpreis to Rennosuke Fukuda
Dr Harald Unkelbach presents the Förderpreis to Rennosuke Fukuda
The competition for young violinists up to the age of 21, split into three age groups: 14 and under, 14-17 years, and 17-20 years. Each competition has three rounds, in which competitors select from a prescribed repertoire list. In Round 1, players must demonstrate their technique in Baroque (Bach or Telemann) and Mozart (a movement from one of the violin concertos) before displaying virtuosic flair in later repertoire (Wieniawski or Paganini). Players advancing to Round 2 have to play an entire sonata (Mozart for the youngest age category, Beethoven for the middle category), a work by Brahms, Sarasate or Kreisler (depending on the category) plus a free choice of any virtuoso composition. In the final, students perform a concerto from the repertoire lists, which range from Mendelssohn all the way to Tchaikovsky and Sibelius, so there is a genuine mix in the style and skills they are required to demonstrate.

Prizes reach up to 3000 Euros (for 1st Prize in the upper age group), but beyond financial reward, prizes include a violin bow and the chance to earn concert engagements during the festival "Hohenloher Kultursommer". There is also a prize for the best piano accompanist. Other Individual activities offer key areas of support to young players. These take place either directly or through the coordination of local working colleagues and include counselling, arrangement of scholarships and placements at musical colleges or academies, providing quality instruments or the organisation of additional concerts.

The number of participants overall is restricted to 65, so early entry is advisable to budding participants. Applications are now open, with a deadline of 1 June 2017.

Click here for further information and to submit applications.


Article sponsored by Hohenlohe Festival.