Yehudi Menuhin International Competition for Young Violinists
The Yehudi Menuhin International Competition for Young Violinists (or simply the Menuhin Competition) is an international music competition for violinists under the age of 22. It was founded by Yehudi Menuhin in 1983 with the goal of nurturing young violinists. In its early years, the competition took place in Folkestone on the south coast of England. Since 1998, it has been held biennially in different cities around the world. Several of the competition's past laureates, including Julia Fischer, Tasmin Little, and Nikolaj Znaider, have gone on to major international careers.
CompetitionA member of the European Union of Music Competitions for Youth (EMCY),
In later years the required repertoire and the gala concerts have included new works especially commissioned for the competition or works closely associated with the host country. At the 2010 Oslo competition, the previously required works by Paganini were replaced with works by the Norwegian violinist and composer Ole Bull to mark the bicentenary of his birth. The 2008 competition in Cardiff saw the world premiere of Welsh composer Mervyn Burtch's Elegy for King Arthur. The 2014 Austin, Texas competition included two world premieres of Texas-themed works: Donald Grantham's Black-eyed Suzy and Dan Welcher's The Cowboy and the Rattlesnake. The three commissioned works premiered at the 2016 London competition were John Rutter's Visions, Roxanna Panufnik's Hora Bessarabia and Òscar Colomina Bosch's Shpigl.
In the Senior category cash prizes are awarded to the top four places, while in the Junior category (under 16 years old) cash prizes are awarded to the top five places. There are also a number of individual cash prizes. These include the Bach Prize for the best performance of Johann Sebastian Bach's violin works, donated in memory of Robert Masters, the founding Director of the Yehudi Menuhin School. The First Prize winner in the Senior category also receives a one-year loan of a "golden age" Stradivarius violin. The First Prize winner of the Junior category receives a one-year loan of a "fine old Italian violin". At the inauguration of the first competition, Yehudi Menuhin said:After Menuhin's death, the pianist Gordon Back, who had been the competition's accompanist since its founding, took over the Artistic Directorship of the competition, expanding the program into a festival format with the competition taking place amidst concerts, master classes, and education and outreach events. The competition also began moving its venue to a different international city each time. From 2002 to 2014, the competition was held in:
In 2016, the 100th anniversary of Menuhin's birth, the competition returned to London, where once again it was based at the Royal Academy of Music, with its gala concerts held at the Royal Festival Hall. The 2018 competition was held in Geneva, Switzerland. the 2020 competition will be held in Richmond, Virginia.
OrganizationThe Menuhin Competition is operated by the Menuhin Competition Trust, a UK-registered charity. Its President is the Japanese violinist and conductor Joji Hattori. The trust also has close ties to the Menuhin family. Yehudi Menuhin's daughter Zamira Menuhin-Benthall is its Life Patron and his grandson Aaron Menuhin serves as one of the Trustees.
The competition's Artistic Director is the pianist Gordon Back.
As of 2016, the Chair of the Jury is the American violinist Pamela Frank who has held the post since 2012. Past jury members have included Maxim Vengerov, Dong-Suk Kang, Arabella Steinbacher, Ray Chen, Jeremy Menuhin, Julia Fischer, and Tasmin Little.
Notable laureatesPast laureates who have gone on to international careers include:
As both Erica Jeal (the Guardian's music critic) and Gordon Back (the competition's Artistic Director) pointed out, winning the First Prize is no guarantee of a major career, and sometimes those who have become internationally renowned were not First Prize winners. There are also a number of special prizes and awards. In 2018, for the first time in the competition's history, there was a joint 1st prize in the Junior category.