The Louis Spohr violin competition in Weimar, hardly the most famous, has received 189 applications from contenders aged 14 to 20, many flying in from Asia to audition.
They have been whittled down to 107 starters.
No previous winner has gone on to make a major career.
This particular contest is fairly transparent, all judges marks being made public. But the competition industry as a whole feeds off unrealistic expectations and delivers little glory in return for so much hope.