Cliburn doubles the prize money

Cliburn doubles the prize money


norman lebrecht

June 18, 2020

The 16th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition is due to be held, Covid permitting from May 27–June 12, 2021, in Fort Worth, Texas.

To maintain a competitive edge, prizes for the three medalists have been upped by 94% to $100,000 for gold, $50,000 for silver, and $25,000 for bronze. (2017 prizes were $50,000; $25,000; and $15,000, respectively.)

Hey, it’s Texas, it’s Fort Worth. There’s gold in them there vaults.


  • Anon says:

    What does this mean? “There’s gold in them there vautls”?

    • V. Lind says:

      Maybe that there’s plenty of money out there for these competitors — as yet presumably unproven artists — while so many freelance musicians are reporting serious financial hardship and orchestras and theatres all over the place (though we have not heard many complaints out of Texas) are saying they may be forced to shut down if something does not go right soon.

      In better times, this would be wonderful news for artists starting out, some of whom have studies to continue. It just strikes a slightly discordant note when everyone else seems to be hurting.

    • E says:

      It’s a variation on the old western movies
      line, “there’s gold in them there hills.” With a typo in the variation word, “vaults.”

  • Edgar Self says:

    Contestants may view it differently. The Cliburn’s record of fostering careers probably compares well with its chief competition, Warsaw’s Chopin and Moscow’s Tchaikovsky. Even competitions have competitors.

  • Elvira says:

    I believe the most important for a winner is the opportunity to be heard, to be helped with all the difficulties of a career after the competition.
    Sure the double amounts are nice but the struggle comes after

  • Edgar Self says:

    But the opportunity to be heard requires the awards money for promotion, travel and living expenses, and the engagements guaranteed by the top awards. They go together. I expect honest contestants would

    Even William Butler Yeat’s first question on on hearing of his Nobel prize award in literature was, “How much?” Nobel prizes and MacArthur Foundation genius awards now top a million US dollars. International competitions, which all of these are, move with the times, inflation, life insurance, and cost-of-living supplements. admit the lure of the honoraria. Would they even be there otherwise?

  • M. L. Liu says:

    It is always a pleasure to see that priceless photo of the late great Mr. Van Cliburn bestowing a gold medal on my beloved pianist, Nobuyuki Tsujii, at the 2009 Cliburn Competition. I am grateful to the Cliburn for what the competition has done to raise the profile of pianists such as Nobu, whom I most likely would otherwise never know about.
    As a point of interest: Nobu has been giving a series of online salon concert in Japan this month (June 2020), streamed in real time but not available to those of us overseas. They have done well enough to crash the server last Sunday, and an additional unplanned appearance has been added in July.

  • GrazziDad says:

    That’s a lovely gesture, and I’m sure the winners will appreciate it. At the same time, it’s unclear that this helps them “to maintain a competitive edge”. It’s not like any of the contestants would have stayed home if the prize money weren’t raised. Frankly, the people who need it most are the vast majority of the contestants to walk away with nothing other than their own considerable expenses.