Competitions can’t guarantee stardom. And yet, at a time when the classical music business is struggling to reinvent itself in a changing world, the field seems to cling to its competitions more tightly than ever. The Alink-Argerich Foundation, which monitors the spread of competitions around the world, estimates that today there are more than 800 competitions for piano alone.
So competitions, like the rest of the business, are redefining themselves. Indeed, the line between the competition and other classical music organizations is increasingly blurred. “We try to make it more of a festival than a competition,” Idith Zvi, the artistic director of the Arthur Rubinstein competition in Tel Aviv, told an interviewer in 2017.