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Van Cliburn Piano Competition Postponed Until 2022

by Bill Zeeble 22 Sep 2020 11:59 AM

For the first time in nearly 60 years, the Cliburn International Piano competition is being postponed. The contest for young pianists, held every four years since 1962, had been scheduled for next June. Now, because of the pandemic, it will be held in June of 2022.

Cliburn president, Jacques Marquis, said the decision was not difficult.

“I believe that the audience is a big, big part of the Cliburn especially for the last 2 rounds,” Marquis declared. “And it’s part of any competition, this relationship between the audience and the candidates. And with an audience of 10% or 50% or 25% is kind of a downer and I don’t want to do that.”

Cliburn president Jacques Marquis interviewed by Lee Cullum on KERA’s CEO.

In addition, Marquis said, travel remains uncertain during the pandemic, especially for international competitors and judges. Postponing should also help young artists, giving them more time to practice.

“By switching to 2022,” Marquis said, “we define a very precise goal and they say, ‘OK, very good we’ll be ready for the Cliburn.'”

Competitors are usually 30 years or younger. Marquis said to be fair, pianists who aged out because of the date-change will still be eligible to compete.


The full release:


FORT WORTH, Texas, September 22, 2020—The Cliburn announces today that the sixteenth edition of its flagship Van Cliburn International Piano Competition will now be held June 2–18, 2022, at Bass Performance Hall and Van Cliburn Concert Hall at TCU, in Fort Worth, Texas, USA. The Competition was previously slated for May 27–June 12, 2021.

“The Cliburn Competition is a once-every-four-years opportunity for us to showcase exceptional artists to the world, to bring the international classical music community together in Fort Worth, to create a singular event for our hometown, and, in the end, to launch careers,” said Jacques Marquis, Cliburn president and CEO. “It’s become clear in recent months that the continuing effects of the pandemic will prevent us from producing an event at the level and with the impact that our patrons, our supporters, and—most importantly—our competitors deserve. Now, with a clear path forward, we can plan a Competition that will achieve new heights and be a fitting celebration of international strength and unity after such challenging times.”

The Cliburn’s competition cycle will change, for this period only, to:

June 2–18, 2022 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition
Fall 2022 Cliburn International Amateur Piano Competition
June 2023 Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition and Festival

Details for the Amateur and Junior Competitions to be announced as venue and other confirmations are made.

The Cliburn decided to postpone the Competition, a first since the organization’s inception in 1962, citing the following:
• Social distancing and safety protocols for in-person events – the vibrancy of the Cliburn Competition is built around the energy of the audience. Though the Cliburn is a leader in classical music webcasting, the in-person atmosphere is an element that also sets it apart; the competitors remember the warmth of patrons in Fort Worth for many years after. The health of the patrons is of utmost importance, and postponing will offer the opportunity to safely gather.
• International travel – the international nature of the Competition is foundational, and it is uncertain if people from all around the globe (competitors, attendees, press) will be able to or feel comfortable with traveling to Texas in 2021.
• Planning uncertainty – the planning of the Competition is a complex, multiyear process, which is obviously hindered by the unpredictability of the pandemic globally.
• Winners’ touring – The primary goal of the Competition is the launch of careers. Doing so at a time when concert tours have been suspended is not in the best interest of the new winners.


October 14, 2021 Application submission deadline
March 6–12, 2022 Screening Auditions*
March 30, 2022 Announcement of competitors to the public
June 2, 2022 Competition begins
June 18, 2022 Awards ceremony

*For the first time, the Screening Auditions will be held in the Cliburn’s hometown, Fort Worth, Texas. Seventy-two applicants will be chosen to perform a 25-minute recital in front of a live audience and the Screening Jury. From those, 30 will be selected to return to Fort Worth in May to compete.

No action is necessary for patrons who have already purchased tickets for the 2021 Cliburn Competition; their purchase will automatically transfer to the postponed dates. Premium subscriptions remain on sale and are available HERE. Other subscription packages and individual tickets will go on sale in 2021.

Widely considered one of the preeminent international music contests, the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition exists to share excellent classical music with the largest international audience possible and to launch the careers of its winners every four years. The world’s top pianists compete for gold in front of a live audience in Fort Worth, as well as a global online viewership of over 5 million. Beyond cash prizes, winning a Cliburn medal means comprehensive career management, artistic support, and bolstered publicity efforts for the three years following.

In the postponement to one year later, the venues, format, jury, and other key elements are expected to remain unchanged. Importantly, an additional year of eligibility will be added for competitors. For this edition only, applicants may be 18 to 31 years of age (born after June 12, 1990, and on or before June 2, 2004). For more information on the 2022 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, click here.