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Walter W. Naumburg Foundation



The Walter W. Naumburg Foundation sponsors competitions and provides awards for young classical musicians in North America. It was founded in 1925 by Walter Wehle Naumburg, a wealthy amateur cellist and son of noted New York City music patron and philanthropist Elkan Naumburg. Elkan Naumburg, owner of the eminent Wall Street bank E. Naumburg & Co., founded the Naumburg Orchestral Concerts in 1905. The Concerts were originally performed at the Bandstand on the Concert Ground of New York's Central Park, and starting in 1923 were performed in the Naumburg Bandshell at the same location.

The Naumburg Competition is one of the oldest and most prestigious music competitions in the world. The website San Francisco Classical Voice writes that "the Naumburg Competition has one of the best track records of selecting young musicians who, in short order, build significant careers". The first competition was held in 1926. In an open audition format, pianists, violinists, and cellists were all eligible to compete. In 1928 it was expanded to include vocalists. The prize included cash awards and the opportunity to play concerts in New York's Town Hall, which virtually insured reviews by New York's most influential music critics. In 1946, Aaron Copland and William Schuman joined the Naumburg Foundation board of directors, and shortly afterwards the Foundation began awarding composers with recording projects. In 1961, the format of the competition was changed into a professional competition with a single winner, for one particular discipline. In 1965, the competition was expanded to include chamber music ensembles.

Since the early 1970s, the Naumburg Competition has generally rotated three different categories - piano, strings, and voice - on a triennial basis (although there have also been competitions for flute, clarinet, and classical guitar). Winners receive a cash prize and two recital appearances in Alice Tully Hall. Other opportunities include a recording project, a commission (to be premiered in one of the Alice Tully Hall recitals) and many performance opportunities throughout the United States.

Previous winners of the International Naumburg Competition include Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Elmar Oliveira, Dawn Upshaw, Robert Mann, Leonidas Kavakos, Abbey Simon, William Kapell, Stephen Hough, and Harvey Shapiro. Winners of the Chamber Music Award include the American, Brentano, Miro, and Muir string quartets, and the Eroica Trio.

Winners of the International Naumburg Competition