Concertino Praga – the Antonín Dvořák International Radio Competition for Young Musicians – has been held each year since 1966. The mission of this multidisciplinary competition is to find extraordinary talents up to age 15 or 16. It is jointly organised by the Academy of Classical Music and Czech Radio. Candidates in the three-round competition are judged by an international jury of experts. In the first and second rounds, the jury evaluates the candidates anonymously on the basis of submitted recordings. The third round is held in public at the Rudolfinum as a concert of the Dvořák Prague International Music Festival. In 2020, the competition is open to violin, cello, piano, harpsichord, harp, accordion, flute, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, French horn, trumpet, and trombone. In the finals, the candidates will be accompanied by the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jiří Rožeň.
The winners will receive a scholarship in the amount of up to EUR 5,000. Laureates will also have the opportunity to make a professional radio recording at Czech Radio and to appear at the South Bohemia Festival Concertino Praga.
Since 1988, Concertino Praga has been a member of the European Union of Music Competitions for Youth (EMCY). It is held under the auspices of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), of which Czech Radio became an active member in 1993.
How do I apply to enter the competition?
The deadline has passed for applications to the 2020 Concertino Praga competition. We will inform you about when applications to the 55th-annual competition will be received.
What are the formalities for applying?
Besides personal identification and contact information, applicants must submit a short biographical profile (max. 1,000 characters), their competition repertoire, a competition recording for the first and second rounds, a video recording of the making of the competition recording, two professional portrait photographs (min. 300 dpi) with identification of the photographer, complete scores of all works played (without personal commentary), and a copy of the applicant’s passport (for foreign applicants).
The competion is for what instruments?
In 2020, the competition will be held for violin, cello, piano, harpsichord, harp, accordion, flute, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, French horn, trumpet, and trombone. All soloists are judged together regardless of their instrument. The instruments for the 2021 Concertino Praga Competition have not yet been announced.
Are the competitors divided into categories?
There is only one category: solo performance. All candidates are evaluated without consideration of their chosen instrument or age.
Is the competition intended only for soloits?
The 2020 competition is only open to soloists, but in 2021 the competition will also be open to chamber music with an average age of up to 20 for all ensemble members, and the oldest member of the ensemble may not reach the age of 21 during the year when the application is submitted. This category is open to duos, trios, quartets, or quintets.
What is the age limit for candidates?
At the 54th-annual competition for violin, cello, piano, harpsichord, accordion, harp, and guitar, musicians born on 1 Jan. 2005 or later may participate. The competition is open to candidates on flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, French horn, saxophone, and trombone born on 1 Jan. 2004 or later.
How does the competition work?
After the application deadline (15 Dec. 2019), the jury meets for the first round and judges competition performances on the basis of submitted recordings no later than by 28 February 2020. The jury chooses 25 candidates to advance to the second round regardless of the instruments. In the second round, the jury judges the same recording submitted for the first round of the competition. Four competitors will be announced to advance to the finals by no later than 30 April 2020. The final round will take place on 12 September at the Rudolfinum as part of the 2020 Dvořák Prague International Music Festival. The jury is different for each round of the competition.
When and where does the competition take place ?
The first two rounds of the three-round competition are based on submitted recordings. The third round consists of a live performance accompanied by the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra as part of the Dvořák Prague Festival at the Rudolfinum on 12 September 2020.
How do I choose repertoire for the competition?
For competition repertoire, it is recommended that applicants choose music from contrasting stylistic periods, taking into consideration the promotion of the works of Antonín Dvořák and other Czech composers (see recommended compositions). In the case of older music, i.e. works from the Baroque or Classical periods, harpsichord may substitute for piano accompaniment. Applicants may choose works for an unaccompanied solo instrument. For the third round, applicants must chose a solo work with orchestral accompaniment. The work may be a concerto in a single or multiple movements, but not individual movements from a work. The length should be within the range of 20-30 minutes both for the recording and for the concert appearance in the third round.
Are there compulsory compositions for the competition?
No. However, each year the presenter does announce a list of recommended compositions, the performance of which will have a positive impact on competition evaluations. The selection of recommended works may be one of the criteria for evaluation, and their performances may also be eligible for special prizes from foundations that foster the musical legacy of particular composers. The evaluation of a competitor by the jury of experts may also be influenced by the maturity of the choice of a candidate’s competition repertoire, taking into consideration the promotion of the works of Antonín Dvořák and of other Czech composers.
A list of recommended compositions is available online at concertinopraga.cz.
Are certain compositions entirely inappropriate for the competition?
Works with orchestra (concertos where piano substitutes for the orchestral accompaniment) are not accepted. Because of possible radio broadcasting of competition recordings, the use of recordings with piano substituting for an orchestral accompaniment is problematic from a programming perspective. Therefore, recordings that include a work with orchestral accompaniment will be excluded from the competition. The only exceptions are for works that are authorised for performance with piano or that appear on the list of recommended competition repertoire.
How long should the performances be for the individual rounds?
The total length of the applicant’s recording and of the live performance in the third round must be between 20 and 30 minutes. Recordings with a duration under 20 minutes will be eliminated from the competition, and the jury may shorten recordings exceeding 30 minutes.
Can I play using my music?
Memorisation is not required, so using music is permitted, especially for making the recording. One must bear in mind, however, that the competition is for young musicians who aspire to future professional careers on concert stages, and the third round of the competition takes the form of an appearance with orchestra at a major international music festival. It is therefore desirable for competition candidates and their teachers to bear in mind that for instruments where playing from memory at concerts is usual (especially piano, harpsichord, violin, cello, harp etc.), memorisation is regarded as a measure of professionalism.
Performers who require a page turner must make their own arrangements for one. The organiser does not provide page turners. The page turner may be a teacher or another person. For the finals (third round) with orchestra, the organiser provides a page turner. Candidates must announce this requirement at the moment when submitting their applications.
If I am not competing as a solo pianist, will the organiser secure professional piano accompaniment for me?
Yes, in the case of solo performers, professional piano accompaniment is provided for the young artists.
What are the technical partners for competition recording?
The recordings of individual competitors must be in WAV/PCM format – 16/24 bits – 44.1/48 kHz. The recordings must be made between 1 January and 15 December in a studio or at a public performance as a live recording without subsequent editing (whole one-movement compositions or individual movements must be recorded without interruption). The recording may not be subject to any European Broadcasting Union (EBU) broadcasting rights or mechanical reproduction rights (IFPI).
Competitors must also submit a video recording of the recording session for the competition recording, which the jury will view if doubts arise about the making of the competition recording (the video recording can be made using a mobile phone; the jury will not take quality of the video into consideration).
If I advance to the second round, and if the jury finds that the recording for the first round has technical deficiencies, can I remake the recording?
Yes. At the jury’s request, Czech Radio will offer candidates the opportunity to remake competition recordings. Candidates or the organisation sending a candidate shall pay for the costs of travel and accommodations incurred to make the recording.
Is there an application fee?
Candidates are not required to pay an application fee to enter the competition.
Does the presenter pay for my expenses (or those accompanying me)?
The competition presenter pays for competitors’ necessary travel costs. This includes transportation, accommodations, and meals for invited laureates and persons accompanying them (in case of laureates who are minors). For the duration of the events in question, a Czech Radio employee is responsible for the participants from the Czech Republic.
The costs associated with making recordings submitted to the competition must be paid by the candidates themselves if they make their own competition recordings, or by the organisation applying on their behalf, which made the recording.
What prizes can I win?
The 1st prize winner receives a scholarship in the amount of EUR 5,000, the 2nd prize is EUR 2,800, and 3rd prize is EUR 1,700. During the finals, an audience prize will be awarded in the amount of EUR 500 for the participant who receives the largest number of votes from audience members. The youngest participant in the finals will also win the Štěpánka Komárková Prize in the amount of EUR 500. These prizes are awarded in the form of scholarships designated for participation in master classes or study visits, or they may be used as a contribution towards the purchase of a musical instrument, thanks to the support of the Karel Komárek Family Foundation (KKFF).
Besides a scholarship, the first prize winner receives either the opportunity to make his/her own Czech Radio CD studio recording with the pressing and release of up to 200 CDs, or Czech Radio will make a recording not released on CD and will secure the purchase of rights to use works under copyright for the possibility of non-commercial use by all formats, technical resources, and manners of promotion.
The winners of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prizes and candidates awarded an honourable mention will perform at the South Bohemia Festival Concertino Praga. Festival concerts are broadcast and recorded by the Czech Radio channel 3 – Vltava. After the festival, performers get a recording of their performances for their own personal use.
The presenter also seeks out additional concert opportunities for the most successful Czech competitors both in the Czech Republic and abroad.
Who will sit on the jury of experts?
The jury is different for each round of the competition. It always consists of renowned instrumentalists from the Czech Republic and abroad, conductors, music teachers, and representatives of the European Broadcasting Union. Detailed information is available in the section titled Jury (see below).
How does the jury make its evaluation?
In the competition, the candidates’ artistic performances are evaluated without consideration of their age or instrument. The evaluation of competitors by the jury of experts will also be influenced by the maturity of the selection of competition repertoire, taking into consideration the promotion of the works of Antonín Dvořák and other Czech composers.
The first and second rounds are completely anonymous. The jury evaluates candidates based on submitted recordings. For advancement to the second round, the jury selects 25 competitors. For advancement to the third round, 4 competitors are selected, and there are 4 alternates who do not advance to the 3rd round but appear at the South Bohemia Festival Concertino Praga. A contestant chosen as an alternate may appear in the 3rd round of the competition if one of the selected participants in the 3rd round declines to participate.
The final round is held as a public concert on 12 September 2020 at the Dvořák Prague International Music Festival. Results of the finals are announced on the day of the concert, when prizes are also presented on the Dvořák Hall stage at the Rudolfinum.
When and how can I find out whether I have advanced to the next round?
The results of the first round will be announced at the end of February 2020, and the announcement of the results of the second round will take place at the end of April 2020. The presenter will inform participants advancing to the second and third rounds in writing using the e-mail address entered in the application form within 5 workdays of the jury’s decision. A candidate or the organisation applying on his/her behalf must confirm that the candidate will continue in the competition within 5 workdays after notification of advancement has been sent. If any of the candidates fail to confirm their intent to continue, candidates shall advance to the next round in the order determined by the competition jury when it sat for the previous competition round. The results of the third round are announced immediately after all finalists have performed at the Rudolfinum in Prague.
Since this is a radio competition, will Czech Radio broadcast my recordings publicly?
The performances in the 3rd round are recorded by Czech Radio with the possibility of their live broadcasting in both audio and audiovisual format. All of the candidates’ rights with the respect to the creation of an artistic performance and its use are covered by provisions of the Competition Rules.
Who organises the competition?
The competition organisers are the Academy of Classical Music and Czech Radio.
Where do I turn if I need clarification?
The deadline has passed for applications to the 2020 Concertino Praga competition. We will inform you about when applications to the 55th-annual competition will be received.
The competition jury consists of leading instrumental soloists, conductors, music teachers, and representatives of the European Broadcasting Union. The jury members for the 1st and 2nd rounds will not have any information about the competitors, and the voting is secret and entirely anonymous. The final third round is public in the form of a concert that is an official part of the programme of the Dvořák Prague International Music Festival. The results will be announced immediately after the completion of the programme.
Jury for the 1st round
Evert van Berkel, Sveriges Radio, EBU (Sweden)
Anna Fusek, flute, violin (Germany)
Milan Langer, piano (Czech Republic)
František Novotný, violin (Czech Republika)
Vít Petrášek, cello (Czech Republic)
Milan Puklický, music director (Czech Republic)
Irvin Venyš, clarinet (Czech Republic)
Jury for the 2nd round
Milán Bolla, MTVA, EBU, (Hungary)
Jana Brožková, oboe (Czech Republic)
Ian Fountain, piano (Great Britain)
Irena Jakubcová, violin (Czech Republic)
Kateřina Javůrková, French horn (Czech Republic)
Jens Peter Maintz, violoncello (Germany)
Jury for the 3rd round
Walter Auer, flute (Austria)
Jana Boušková, harp (Czech Republic)
David Geringas, cello (Germany, Lithuania)
Augustin Hadelich, violin (USA)
Jakub Hrůša, conductor (Czech Republic)
Francois Leleux, oboe, conductor (France)
Thibaut Maillard, R.T.S., EBU (Switzerland)
David Mareček, piano, director Czech Philharmonic (Czech Republic)
Tomáš Netopil, conductor (Czech Republic)
Daniel Ottensamer, clarinet (Austria)
Maxim Vengerov, violin (Israel)
Lukáš Vondráček, piano (Czech Republic)
Concertino Praga – the Antonín Dvořák International Radio Competition for Young Musicians – was founded in 1966 at the initiative of the Czechoslovak Radio editorial staff for broadcasting for children and young people. Among the leading figures in the initial development of the idea of a radio competition were the harpsichordist Zuzana Růžičková, the composer Viktor Kalabis, and the radio editor Helena Karásková. Thanks to the existence of the Organisation Internationale de la Radiodiffusion et Télévision, a former east-European institution that facilitated cooperation between radio and television stations, the competition was able to attain an international character and thus to differentiate itself from a large number of established national competitions for performing musicians.
In view of the complications associated with organising international activities under the former political regime, the decision was made to hold a competition without the direct participation of the competitors by only using submitted audio recordings. It was not until the concert that the winners were invited to appear together on one stage for the first time in history in the Dvořák Hall at the House of Artists in Prague on 18 November 1966, where the violinists Václav Hudeček (2nd prize) and Dmitry Sitkovetsky (1st prize) were among the now familiar artists presenting themselves.
The following year, Václav Hudeček won first prize, and among the pianists to win prizes were Dina Joffe and Zoltán Kocsis. Despite the competition’s necessarily strong orientation towards eastern Europe, among the laureates at the turn of the 1960s and ’70s were the Israeli violinist Yuval Yaron, a string quartet from West Germany (with Ulrike Fleming, Assunta Kwoka, Brigitte Schmeid, and Doris Laidler), a Japanese piano duo with Shizuka Ishikawa and Mariko Horie, and the Canadian pianists Louis Lortie and Jon Kimura Parker. Still today, there is an apparent tradition of candidates from eastern Europe – each year, Russian competitors usually represent the most numerous foreign nationality at Concertino.
While the competition was initially open to just three categories (piano, violin, and chamber music), the number of instruments gradually grew. For this reason, among the laureates were not only the violinists Sergei Stadler, Julian Rachlin, Isabelle Faust, and Jan Mráček and the pianists Vladimír Felcman, Igor Ardašev, and Ivo Kahánek, but also the cellists Leonid Gorochov, Mikhail Rudin, and Tomáš Jamník, the organist Jaroslav Tůma, the flautist Michael Martin Kofler, the oboists Jana Brožková and Vilém Veverka, the clarinettists Sabine Meyer and Ludmila Peterková, the French horn player Radek Baborák, and the trumpet player Giuliano Sommerhalder.
The multidisciplinary and international character of Concertino Praga has been strengthened thanks to the establishment of cooperation between Czech Radio and the Academy of Classical Music in 2019. This has brought together the potential of the large media company that founded the competition and has been leading it successfully for more than 50 years, and of an institution that has been presenting the internationally recognised Dvořák Prague Festival for twelve years. The support for exceptionally talented young artists was thus able to take on a new form, and the 54th annual Concertino Praga competition gained the subtitle Antonín Dvořák International Radio Competition for Young Musicians. Dvořák’s legacy is reflected in the fact that the composer himself gave financial support to promising young artists. Successful contestants therefore receive scholarships or a contribution towards the purchase of their own instrument thanks to major support from the Karel Komárek Family Foundation.