Aim and background information

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We trust, that this competition will inspire a new generation of musicians to perform on historic square and fortepianos and to continue enlightening their and following generations of a wide public audience with the experience of performances on these instruments. This way, we hope to stimulate the appreciation for this musical cultural heritage, both material and immaterial, in general and, especially, the enjoyment of the individual sound of these historic pianos.

The initiators of the competition have a broad view on the performance on early keyboards, which is certainly not limited to the historically informed performance – the Early Music Movement – alone. We envisage, that the young generation of performers on historic keyboards (including both fortepianos and early modern pianos) is interested not only in studying and performing the most probable and near to authentic period music “such as the composer must have intended”, but also will venture new and innovative music formats for these historic instruments, both re-using pieces from the Early, Classical and Romantic periods, as well as implementing later or contemporary, and/or cross-cultural compositions.

The competition is modelled around the Geelvinck Collection of historic (forte)pianos. Therefore careful performance, which is proper for historic instruments, is a significant aspect, besides the musician’s virtuosity and his or her technical command of mastering fortepiano and square piano in line with the commonly accepted principles for historically informed performance. The main target of this competition is strongly related to education and the development of skills.

The competition aims to stimulate career development in performing on historic fortepianos and square pianos. The competitions targets worldwide on early-career professional early keyboard performers and pianists, who specialise in the historically informed performance practice.

Strong emphasis is laid on the technical ability of taking proper, tender and loving care of the historic instruments and on the social performance of the candidates in respect to the historic instruments, in relation to the historical context of both (and intertwined) the compositions and the instruments, and in relation to their fellow candidates and musicians. The competition is about the personal ability for performing with proper care on historic fortepianos (grand, square and other).

The purpose of participation in the competition should not only be for just winning it, but rather for gaining experience in performing on authentic period instruments. The competition element is there to stimulate reaching the highest level performance as reviewed by peers (i.e. the jury) on a public stage.

High level performance is not only defined in the perfect execution of the scores, but rather in understanding how to bring alive the historically informed performance on these historic pianos taking into account their historical context and individuality. To show personality in the candidate’s performance is seen as a virtue.

The jury shall take in consideration all aspects, aesthetic, historical, social and technical, next to the candidate’s virtuosity. Especially for the final round, the jury will take in consideration the way the performance is coming from the heart, so the aesthetic individuality of the candidate’s performance, rather than only a technically perfect performance.

We restructured the Geelvinck Fortepiano Concourse in such way, that it will stimulate pianists to participate in the master classes, which the museum intends to offer in the academic year 2018-2019. The competition in 2018 is geared towards the 1st half 19th century historic piano and it music. The choice of the repertoire for the competition in 2019 is geared towards the earlier fortepiano.

Moreover, we introduced performing on square piano in the first round of the fortepiano competition, thus testing the candidate’s skills on this instrument, so common at the time. This is besides the annual square piano competition, which has become a treasured tradition for our festival.

Educational purpose: gaining experience, knowhow and network
To stimulate pianists to perform on historic pianos, the museum organises master classes. Candidates are highly recommended to take these master classes.

In the same way, the competition is not solely about winning: it is in the first place intended for gaining experience. Participants will have the opportunity, time permitting, to discuss their performance with the jury after each round.

Moreover, it is recommended, that candidates join the annual symposium on fortepianos, which is part of the annual Geelvinck Fortepiano Festival. Candidates can join this symposium free of charge.

It is our intention to connect our competitions with possibilities to be invited to perform in fortepiano and other early music festivals worldwide.

In 2011, the annual competition had its first edition during the first Geelvinck Festival “Amsterdam Virtuosi”. This first edition had two ex aequo winners: Yi-Heng Yang and Chiaki Omura. Other then the fourth and following editions, the first three editions of the competition were exclusively limited to the square piano. Since the fourth edition, the scope of the competition is broadened to fortepianos (grand), next to a separate award for performing on square pianos.

In previous years, the competition was part of the Geelvinck Fortepiano Festival.
A video impression of the fourth edition (2014) of the festival, can be found here.

Impressions of the earlier editions of the festival in Dutch language, can be found here:


The new format of competition is developed by the museum in close cooperation with Marcel Baudet, chairman of our Jury (and artistic leader of the YPF) and is based on the outcome of an evaluation of the previous competition by current and former members of the jury and finalists. As a result the format of the competition is now:
– connected to master classes
– (partly) biannual
– split in three parts, which are separate from the festival, apart from the third part (finals)
– strives to connect to the conservatory curriculum on the one hand and the early music festival practices on the other hand
Our annual square piano competition, unique in the world, remained in line with our festival’s tradition (though we have much higher quality square pianos available now, then when we started in 2011). 

The museum is most grateful for the useful and practical advices given by Willem Brons (former chairman of the Jury), Stanley Hoogland, Richard Egarr, Bart van Oort, Sergei Lubimov, Michael Tsalka and Alain Roudier on this and previous competitions. In addition, we are thankful for the continued hands-on support and advice on the technical part and restoration of the period pianos by Gijs Wilderom, as well as by Edwin Beunk, who graciously gave two of his wonderfully restored instruments on loan for this competition.

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