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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.

Competition

A 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:
  • Boulogne-sur-Mer, based at the École nationale de musique et de danse (2002)
  • Boulogne-sur-Mer, based at the École nationale de musique et de danse (2006)
  • Oslo, based at the Norwegian Academy of Music (2010)
  • Austin, Texas, based at the Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music (2014)

    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.

    Organization

    The 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 laureates

    Past laureates who have gone on to international careers include:
  • Jiafeng Chen (Senior category 2nd prize in 2008)
  • Ray Chen (Junior category 3rd Prize, 2004 and Senior category 1st prize in 2008)
  • Julia Fischer (Junior category 1st Prize in 1995)
  • Ilya Gringolts (Junior category 6th Prize in 1995)
  • Joji Hattori (Senior category 4th Prize in 1987 and Senior category 1st Prize, Bach Prize, and Audience Prize in 1989)
  • Daishin Kashimoto (Junior category 1st Prize in 1993)
  • Tasmin Little (Senior category 3rd Prize in 1983 and Senior category 2nd Prize in 1985)
  • Lara St. John (Junior category 4th Prize in 1985)
  • Nikolaj Znaider (Senior category 5th Prize and Audience Prize in 1991)

    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.

    Senior category

    ; Other prizes
  • 2014: EMCY Prize – Timothy Chooi
  • 2012: EMCY Prize – Kenneth Renshaw
  • 2012: Bach Prize – Gabriel Ng
  • 2012: Composer's Prize – Victor Zeyu Li
  • 2010: Violin Prize – Timothy Chooi
  • 2008: Bach Prize – Evgeny Sviridov
  • 2006: Composer's Prize – Samika Honda
  • 2006: Outstanding Performance in Semi-Finals – Dragos Mihail Manza
  • 2006: Outstanding Performance in Semi-Finals – Mathieu van Bellen
  • 2004: Chamber Music Award – Anthony Sabberton
  • 2002: Composer's Prize – Anna Savytska
  • 1995: Audience Prize – Lisa Kim
  • 1995: President’s Prize – Lisa Kim + Natalia Lomeiko
  • 1995: Bach Prize – Zhanna Tonaganyan
  • 1993: Audience Prize – Gabriela Demeterova
  • 1991: Bach Prize – Qing Guo + Eugeny Andrusenko
  • 1991: Senior 5th Prize – Nikolaj Znaider
  • 1991: Audience Prize – Nikolaj Znaider
  • 1989: Bach Prize – Joji Hattori
  • 1989: Audience Prize – Joji Hattori
  • 1987: Bach Prize – Elisabeth Glass + Zheng Qing
  • 1987: Audience Prize – Elisa Barston
  • 1985: Bach Prize – Xiao-Dong Wang
  • 1985: Tunnicliffe Prize – Xiao-Dong Wang
  • 1985: Audience Prize – Abigail Young
  • 1983: Bach Prize – Leland Chen
  • 1983: Audience Prize – Isabelle van Keulen
  • 1983: Senior 5th Prize – Dorota Siuda
  • 1983: Senior 6th Prize – Micha Sugiura

    Junior category

    ; Other prizes

  • 2012: Composer's Prize – Kevin Zhu
  • 2010: EMCY Prize – Guro Kleven Hagen
  • 2008: Composer's Prize – Yu-Ah Ok
  • 2002: Chairman’s Special Prize - Esther Kim
  • 1995: Junior 7th Prize - Sally Cooper
  • 1991: Audience Prize - Jennifer Koh
  • 1989: Audience Prize - Livia Sohn
  • 1987: Audience Prize - Suzy Whang
  • 1985: Audience Prize - Scott St. John