Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Hochschulwettbewerb
Once a year, the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz awards a prize for outstanding young musicians. This is presented in cooperation with the Rectors' Conference of German Conservatories and Berlin University of the Arts.
The Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Conservatory Competition is one of Germany's most important youth music competitions. It is organized annually by the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation) in cooperation with the Rectors' Conference of German Conservatories and Berlin University of the Arts.
Musical Excellence Three Times Over
Young musicians can compete in any of the three competition categories of the Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Conservatory Competition, which are changed each year. A total of over 50,000 Euros in prize money is awarded to the prizewinners. In addition, the Federal President's Prize is awarded in the Mendelssohn Category; this is the only cash prize that the President awards in the field of music. Concerts are scheduled on three days of the competition, featuring that year's prizewinners, so that they have an opportunity of demonstrating their musical excellence before a large audience. The public are also welcome to come and listen, free of charge, to the competitive recitals in front of the judging panel.
The Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Conservatory Competition has been under the artistic directorship of Prof. Dr. Sebastian Nordmann since 2016. Its patron is Andris Nelsons. The President of the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Prof. Dr. Hermann Parzinger, is a member of the Artistic Advisory Board.
A Tradition Going Back to 1878
The oldest classical music competition in Germany enjoys a long tradition. In 1878, the Prussian government established the Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Foundation for the purpose of awarding scholarships to talented young musicians. It was preceded by a donation of the famous composer's manuscripts, which are now kept in the Mendelssohn Archives of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (Berlin State Library). This aspect of the competition's background is recalled by the original manuscript of Prelude Op. 37, no. 2 of 1837, also part of the Mendelssohn Archives, which has been used in the competition's branding since 2013.
The first prize winner, in 1879, was Engelbert Humperdinck. After him, many important musicians such as Wilhelm Backhaus, Otto Klemperer, Kurt Weill, and Marie Soldat received awards. This program to assist young musicians was stopped by the Nazis, but in 1963 it was resumed by the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, which established the Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Prize. In 2013, this was merged with the German conservatories' music competition to create the Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Conservatory Competition.