Petr Eben International Organ Competition

The first year of the Competition of Young Organists took place in 1978 after a new organ, Rieger-Kloss Opus 3485, had been installed in the ceremonial hall in Petr Bezruč Municipal Culture House, today’s Petr Bezruč Library. The competition of young organists under the age of 26 showed an increasingly progressive trend not only in the growing numbers of participants, but also in the increasing quality of performances, including the optional competitive discipline of improvisation. From the beginning the prestige of “organ Opava” has been guaranteed by prominent Czech and foreign music teachers and performers sitting on the jury. Educational aspects always played an important role in the organization of individual years and setting the conditions of the competition. To the credit of the initiators of the competition, we can state that the original conception was foresightful and perspective, always reflecting the current situation at home and abroad.

The original two-round concept of the competition on one instrument  changed to a three-round concept in the 18th year (2002) of the competition with international participation. The main incentive for the change was the installation of a new organ in the Church of the Holy Spirit. The organ with the disposition and sound characteristics close to Baroque instruments allowed for a change in the repertoire that newly included a rendition of the 17th and 18th century music. The 2002 competition finals took place in the Co-cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

The growing reputation of the Opava organ competition was reflected in the subtitle of the 14th year of the competition “International Competition of Young Organists 2004 – Petr Eben Competition”. The competition proposition of the 1st and 3rd round newly included Eben’s organ compositions. The best performance of Petr Eben’s competition wins an award from the Czech Music Fund. The improvisation competition is based on Eben’s non-organ compositions.

In the 17th year (2010) of the competition, the Competition of Young Organists transformed into Petr Eben International Organ Competition with only one, but numerously represented category for organists up to 30 years of age. The international 7-member jury awards prizes for interpretation, improvisation, and the Czech Music Fund Award. The winners get to perform at prestigious international festivals.

More than forty years of Petr Eben International Organ Competition and the ever growing number of contestants from non-European countries affirm not only the socio-artistic qualities of the competition, but also its importance for both Czech and international organ world and the position it holds the music life of Opava.

The competition is announced by the Statutory Town of Opava and organized in cooperation with the Church Conservatoire of the Order of Teutonic Knights and the Czech Music Foundation. It regularly receives financial support from the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic. The contestants perform on several dispositionally different instruments – in Petr Bezruč Library (1 round), Co-cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary (2nd round), and St. Vojtěch’s Church (3rd round, improvisation competition, and the concert of winners).

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