Breaking: Major US piano competition shuts down

Breaking: Major US piano competition shuts down


norman lebrecht

May 23, 2017

Janelle Gelfand has just reported the death, after 60 years, of the Cincinnati World Piano Competition.

The organisers were unable to raise $300,000 to keep it running.

It was America’s longest-running annual piano competition.

At times it was so ferocious that one pianist played til her hands bled (below).

Read more here.



  • Zacharias Galaviz Guerra says:

    What a shame… as long as the administration keeps on making decisions like abolishing the National Endowment for the Arts or continuing to ignore and/or cut education and artistic spending, we will continue to see this plague this country… 🙁

    • REGERFAN says:

      The administration cannot abolish the NEA/NEH. That would have to be done by Congress. A majority of members of Congress support NEA/NEH. It appears likely that they will continue.

      • John says:

        Right. The administration can just defund them. Same result, right?

        As for abolishing them, give Congress enough time.

        • REGERFAN says:

          Appropriations are made by the congress. The president cannot defund the NEA/NEH.

          I am not saying that they are safe, but some understanding of the budget process is required here.

  • Ariel Dragge says:

    That’s indeed fortunate, because the musical world can be spared a repetition of 2015, when two finalists played — want to guess? — yes, Rachmaninoff’s famed 3rd piano concerto in D minor. And the third finalist played — want to guess again? yes, Tchaikovsky’s famed First Piano Concerto in B flat minor, even “whizzing over the keys when the moment called for it.” (

    Why should we care about these people and their performances of these same works that are flogged to death in the other 799 “international piano competitions”?

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    If they should ever resurrect the competition (or create a new one), one thought might be to try two things: a chamber music round featuring a new work commissioned for the competition, and, a final round featuring new concerti composed in the 21st century only, by living composers. Maybe a list of 6 or 7 to choose from? Is this new? Can this add to the repertoire? Would this be a multi-pronged goal of competitions to promote talent of the pianist but also the composers–and–encourage future works for chamber music and for piano and orchestra?

  • Wiggins says:

    It’s not entirely unexpected – this competition was notoriously unorganized and corrupt. There were numerous stories of competitors never receiving their prize money and promised engagements that never materialized. It generally had a laughable reputation, and even the brief success they had with the last few competitions couldn’t stem the effects of decades of mismanagement and in-fighting. Sad!